Excelsior Orthopaedics Launches Comprehensive Sports Concussion Center for Young Athletes | Health
AMHERST, N.Y.– Western New York athletes ages 10 and above can now receive early diagnosis and proper care for sports-related concussions with the launch of Excelsior Orthopaedics’ new Sports Concussion Center and Play Safe program – Western New York’s first and only comprehensive sports concussion management program for young athletes.
The launch of the Sports Concussion Center and Play Safe program coincides with the start of fall sports practices and games for thousands of male and female middle school and high school athletes in Western New York. As part of the new center, Excelsior’s Play Safe program offers a simple and cost-effective way – using computerized neurocognitive testing – for young athletes and school officials to ensure that athletes suffering concussions are fully recovered before returning to the playing field.
This is particularly important as school districts look at working with the requirements posed by the “Concussion Management and Awareness Act” that was recently passed by the New York State Legislature and is awaiting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signing into law. Youth concussions, as well as those sustained by collegiate and professional athletes, have been the target of increasing public attention with a major focus given to proper concussion management in preventing the potentially serious long-term health effects of concussions that include memory loss, chronic headaches, depression, fatigue, and loss of consciousness.
“There’s a heightened level of awareness now of the serious effects that concussions can have on the health of athletes at every level of competition, but it’s still not where it needs to be – particularly among children and young adults,” said David Uba, chief executive officer, Excelsior Orthopaedics. “Immediate diagnosis of a concussion and the proper treatment are the keys to avoiding any long-term effects, so we’ve established the Sports Concussion Center and the Play Safe Program at Excelsior to ensure that more young athletes in Western New York can get the care they need when they need it,” he said. “A concussion is an injury to the brain, generally caused by a blow to the head, which jars or shakes the brain inside the skull,” said Jason Matuszak, M.D., director of Excelsior’s Sports Concussion Center and Play Safe program, and a specialist in sports medicine and concussion management. “Most athletes who experience an initial concussion can recover completely as long as they are not returned to exertion or contact play too soon.”
The Play Safe program allows young athletes to take a 30 to 40 minute ImPACT© (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) ‘baseline’ test before their sports season begins, or at any time before sustaining a concussion. The test measures brain processing such as speed, memory, and visual motor skills. The results of this test are stored and serve as the baseline for the athlete.
Should the athlete ever experience a concussion, he or she will re-take the ImPACT test in the days following the concussion. Post-concussion data is then compared to the baseline data to help determine the severity and effects of the injury. The data helps determine when the athlete’s neurocognitive brain function has returned to baseline scores – which aids the physician in determining when it may be safe for the athlete to return to play. “Research shows that the effects of repeated concussions are cumulative.
A concussed athlete whose injury is not managed properly and who returns to play too soon before the brain has had time to heal is at greater risk of further, more serious injury,” said Dr. Matuszak, the only physician in Western New York certified as an ImPACT consultant and who serves as a team physician for the Buffalo Bisons, and has worked with U.S.A. Hockey and the U.S. Olympic Committee. “Concussions occur in about 10 percent of all athletes in contact sports and can occur in any sport or recreation activity, “ he said. “Children and teens are also more likely to get a concussion and take longer to recover than adults.“
Some local high schools currently require baseline testing for student athletes who participate in contact sports such as football, hockey, and lacrosse, and Dr. Matuszak anticipates that more schools will begin to do so, in response to recently passed “Concussion Management and Awareness Act, “which establishes new standards for concussion management and encourages the creation of concussion management teams in individual schools and districts.
Through its Play Safe Program, the Sports Concussion Center at Excelsior provides any athlete over the age of 10 with the opportunity to take the ImPACT baseline test for a cost of $20. To ensure the integrity of the results, the tests are supervised, and can be scheduled at the Excelsior Orthopaedics medical campus at 3925 Sheridan Drive in Amherst. Testing can also be scheduled at a satellite location in the Southtowns at St. Bernadette School on 5890 South Abbott Road in Orchard Park. Appointments for the ImPACT test should be made on the Excelsior Orthopaedics website. Secure, online payments should be made through PayPal© when scheduling the appointment.
According to Dr. Matuszak, once a young athlete’s baseline test results have been established, the focus of Excelsior’s Play Safe Program shifts to accurate diagnosis and effective management of a concussion. “We’re very fortunate to have assembled a top-notch team of medical professionals here at Excelsior, including physicians, therapists and athletic trainers – all of whom are experts in the management of youth sports concussions and are dedicated to keeping young athletes in the game, safely,” Dr. Matuszak said. “We’re very proud to bring the Sports Concussion Center and the Play Safe Program to the families of Western New York. We’re committed to raising awareness about the effects of sport-related concussions, and to ensuring that more young athletes get the care they need when they sustain a concussion, so that any long-term effects can be avoided,” Uba said.
Complete sports concussion management services are offered by Excelsior and are covered by the majority of insurance providers.