Concussion is the most common type of traumatic brain injury, and while they are often caused by a blow to the head, they can also occur when the head and upper body are violently shaken. Concussion as a result of contact sports has been a hot issue in the media, but concussions can also be caused by car and bicycle accidents, work-related injuries, falls, fighting, and other indirect head trauma. These were just a few of the topics discussed at the 2015 Physical Therapy Forum “Blow-by-Blow: PT Concussion Management” in the UTC University Center.
“Since 1999, the UTC physical therapy program annually co-hosts an educational forum for the clinical community with Chattanooga State’s physical therapist assistant program. Physical therapists annually provide 21,600 hours of free supervision for the UTC students in the clinical environment [in hospitals, clinics, etc.]. The forum is a small thank-you in appreciation of this relationship,” said Debbie Ingram, PT, Ed.D., FAPTA, Director of Clinical Education and Interim Department Head of Physical Therapy.
Sharpe founded Camp Horizon, an overnight camp for children with physical disabilities who may not otherwise have access to those types of experiences. In the ten years Sharpe has directed the program, it has made possible 252 camping opportunities for children with movement challenges. Camp Horizon has also provided 273 counselor experiences for Physical Therapy students to enrich their educational preparation.
Along with her husband, Sharpe is responsible for the fundraising for Camp Horizon, which provides its services to campers free of cost. Sharpe and her husband have successfully acquired grant funds to install an adapted zip-line for the children at Camp Lookout where the camp is held each year.
Sharpe has also supported the Physical Therapy department at UTC by serving as adjunct faculty, providing patient demonstration sessions, partnering with research projects, and teaching an advanced pediatric elective.
The speaker for the forum was Dr. Sue L. Whitney, PT, Ph.D., NCS, ATC, FAPTA, a professor in physical therapy in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and the Program Director of the Centers for Rehab Services Balance and Vestibular Rehabilitation Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Whitney is also a director on the American Physical Therapy
Association Board of Directors.
The topic of Whitney’s discussion was, “Physical Therapy Concussion Management.” Whitney discussed post-concussion syndrome, second impact syndrome, and Chronic Traumatic Encepholopathy, a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found those with a history of repetitive brain trauma. She also discussed inner ear balance and visual motor impairments that often follow concussions, and how these are amenable to intervention.
“This was an especially timely topic with multiple bills before Congress and frequent news reports related to athletics. However, the highest incidence of emergency visits with traumatic brain injuries is young children. Falls are the leading cause of these injuries. Dr. Whitney provided specific assessment and treatment recommendations to the physical therapy clinical community, faculty, and students,” said Ingram.
Lunch was provided by the following companies who were on site to visit: Benchmark Physical Therapy, NHC Rehabilitation, Life Care Centers of America, Magister Corporation, ATI Physical Therapy, Tru Medical Solutions, Pinnacle Orthotics & Prosthetics and Rehab Care.
UTC is dedicated to understanding and treating concussions throughout the University. In 2014, faculty in The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Graduate Athletic Training Program partnered with MomsTEAM Institute, a leading youth sports health and safety think tank and watchdog group, for a pilot test of the innovative SmartTeam™ program, which is modeled on a community-centric approach to improving youth sports safety. Dr. Gary Wilkerson, Dr. Marisa Colston, and Dr. Shellie Acocello worked with Hixson youth football teams to reduce the risk of brain and other injuries when younger children participate in the sport.
On Saturday, October 11, helmet impact sensors installed for four Hixson youth football teams were monitored during games played at Finley Stadium. The sensors were installed in the helmets of approximately 60 youth football players.
Measurement of typical helmet impact force levels for youth football players in different age groups could be compared to those for high school and college players, which may ultimately provide an objective basis for risk assessment and development of strategies for risk reduction, Wilkerson went on to explain.
Over the course of the fall 2014 football season, UTC faculty continued to provide parents, coaches and officials in the Hixson program with ongoing education on how they and their child’s program can help keep them safe.
The Hixson/University of Tennessee at Chattanooga program is one of only six SmartTeams pilot programs nationwide. Like the Hixson/UTC program, each is being coordinated by a university-based athletic training educator, clinician and researcher.