Cape Regional’s center, established in January 2016, encourages people to see a physician as soon as possible if they suspect a concussion. When a physician or other medical expert refers patients to the center, Weiss said, they will see that patient in less than 48 hours.
Some patients who come in with head injuries from sports, falls or car accidents come through the emergency department, he said, where they may be prescribed a CT scan, which can detect brain bleeds or skull fractures.
Though they are necessary in many cases, experts from the New Jersey Council of Children’s Hospitals and the New Jersey Hospital Association created the Safe CT Imaging Collaborate, which works to standardize protocols for head CT scans in children to decrease radiation exposure.
“Diagnostic radiation is very, very useful when used appropriately,” said Dr. Ernest Leva, associate professor and director of the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center’s Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine. “But if it’s not used appropriately, it can be dangerous.”
Dori Davidson, 19, of Dennis Township, got a concussion not from sports, but from a slip and fall in August.
She visited a Cape Regional urgent care associated with the emergency department for a laceration on her head and was referred to the concussion center, where she got baseline testing, concussion care education and a treatment plan.
Davidson worked with experts in a combination of physical therapy and occupational therapy exercise Friday to strengthen her motor and cognitive capabilities. She worked with the Dynavision D2, a computerized board that tested her motor, physical and neurological skills.
The center, which has seven certified brain injury/concussion specialists trained in physical and occupational therapy, also works with a network of nearby pediatricians to reach children who may see their primary care doctors for head injuries.
Weiss said the center also works with neurologists who attend to patients with more complicated neurological issues stemming from a concussion.
No single test can diagnose someone with a concussion, but experts hope there will be one someday. In the meantime, they said, the best they can do is educate people on how serious concussion can be, the signs and symptoms and the available resources, such as Cape Regional’s specialized center.
“We emphasize everyone to get in early if they suspect a concussion injury,” Weiss said. “The last thing we want to see is people who don’t address their symptoms immediately, they get worse and we have a worse case on our hands.”