When you’re seeking concussion treatment for yourself or a family member, the first step to recovery is choosing the right doctor. Here are five things that the Concussion Legacy Foundation recommends you consider when evaluating potential concussion clinics.
There is no substitute for experience. A doctor who sees primarily concussion patients will be more familiar with the complexities of concussion recovery than a more general practitioner. While it’s not always an option, choosing a concussion specialist can help avoid missteps through the recovery process that can potentially prolong symptom duration.
There are many different disciplines that can be helpful in treating concussion; ultimately, the amount of experience working directly with concussed patients during their recovery is the most important factor. With that in mind, doctoral level clinicians (such as an MD, DO, relevant Ph.D, or DAT) will have a greater depth of knowledge than a Masters or similar level of training.
Concussions are a complex injury, and recovery rarely fits neatly into any one medical discipline. Neurologists, neuropsychologists, speech pathologists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists can all offer different specialties when tailoring treatment. A clinic with a diverse staff of specialists may be better able to match patients with inter-disciplinary treatments that can more directly address their unique needs.
Recently, we have enjoyed a rapid expansion of available resources for concussed patients. Existing clinics are beginning to tailor their practices to the unique needs of concussion patients, and new clinics are opening faster than ever before. There is a steep learning curve, however, and practitioners at recently opened clinics may be less likely to have the experience of specialists at an established clinic.
The majority of top tier clinics are affiliated with hospitals or universities, and affiliated clinics tend to have more treatment resources available. There are several notable exceptions of top tier clinics operating independently, but in general, affiliations can be helpful when trying to distinguish between several clinic options.