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Concussion Baseline Screening Now Available for Pro-Athletes and “Weekend Warriors” Alike

If a 30-year-old yoga practitioner, a 50-year-old surfer and a 19-year-old high school football player are seen at the Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute at Hoag after sustaining head injuries, what’s the best way to determine the severity of the injury, prescribe the right treatment and assess when each person is “back to normal?”

The answer is as varied as the patients themselves. This is why Hoag now offers everyone in Orange County the kind of comprehensive baseline screening program typically associated with professional athletes.

“Everyone’s emotional state and cognitive and physical abilities are different. When an older person comes in with mild cognitive decline, a physician might assume that’s normal for that patient. The only way for the physician to know for sure is if the patient had comprehensive baseline testing before the injury,” said Andrew Ly, M.D., who directs the Hoag Concussion/Mild TBI Program.

While many concussion baseline testing programs are available, Hoag chose to augment the SCAT 5, the same tool used by the National Football League. In addition to the screening tool the pro-athletes, Hoag’s screening tool includes balance and eye tests. The screening covers all four of the areas that can be affected by head trauma: physical issues, cognitive ability, mood changes and sleep disturbances.

“With gyms opening up and many sports programs returning this fall, interest in baseline screening is increasing,” Dr. Ly said. “It’s not just for pro-athletes.”

Through philanthropic support the hospital offers the program for free to underserved school athletic programs. And Hoag is working with the Hoag Orthopedic Institute (HOI) as well as Hoag Medical Group (HMG) doctors to encourage more active people to come in for baseline screening.

“In Orange County, so many people are physically active, whether they are athletes or just ‘weekend warriors.’ I would encourage anyone who regularly engages in any activity that could pose a risk of head injury to come in for an evaluation,” Dr. Ly said. “Having that baseline assessment in your pocket is important.”

If left unaddressed, even mild concussions can have lasting impacts on a person’s cognitive abilities, emotional state or even personality. By knowing a person’s baseline, physicians can better understand the severity of the injury and prescribe treatment to help the person heal faster and more effectively.

In the event of head trauma or concussion, Hoag offers physical, occupational and speech therapy to help guide patients’ healing.

“Symptoms of concussion can be very subtle. It is important to receive care from a center that understands concussions and head trauma, knows what your baseline is and has to tools to get you in quickly for cognitive, physical, occupational therapy to accelerate the recovery process,” Dr. Ly said. “If someone is there monitoring your recovery and customizing your treatment, they can help you to return to life – and return to play.”

For more information, call 888-859-6058.