The Rehabilitation Center at Penn Highlands Healthcare Receives Grant to Prevent Concussions

November 11, 2014

     The Rehabilitation Center at Penn Highlands Healthcare recently received a $5,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH).  Funding will be used to reduce the occurrence of traumatic brain injury.  Specifically, Penn Highlands DuBois and Penn Highlands Elk will offer free or reduced-cost ImPACT concussion testing for local non-school-based athletes, and the hospitals will provide educational seminars at area schools.
     Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is an injury to the brain caused by an external physical force.  Often TBI occurs in the form of a concussion sustained during a sporting activity.  Student athletes are especially susceptible.  TBI causes temporary or permanent impairments in cognitive, physical, behavioral or emotional functions.
     An ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) test is a fairly recent advancement that assists therapists, athletic trainers and physicians in the evaluation of the severity of a concussion and follow the patient’s recovery.  Athletes have a baseline test usually at the beginning of the sports season.  If an injury occurs, the student’s cognitive function is tested against that baseline. 
     Both Penn Highlands DuBois and Elk offer ImPACT testing to school athletes.  The PADOH grant will allow these tests to be extended to non-school-based organizations like Little League and youth soccer.
          Another component of the grant is outreach programs at schools to help in the prevention of concussions.  Mark Hoffman, rehab director at Penn Highlands Elk, has five seminars planned for the following communities:  St. Marys, Ridgway, Johnsonburg, Emporium and Kane. 
     “Education is key to concussion management,” said Hoffman.  “If athletes, parents and coaches understand concussions, they will be able to manage the condition more appropriately.”
     Penn Highlands DuBois will host a spring symposium for area athletes, parents, coaches and health care workers.  Education will also include recognizing the signs and symptoms of concussions and what academic and physical accommodations need to be made when recovering.
     Nearly $2,000 of the grant will be used to train physicians and other providers how to conduct ImPACT testing.
     “This grant is going to go a long way to benefit our schools and community,” said Marty Maloney, rehab director at Penn Highlands DuBois.  “We have a solid plan to reduce the number and severity of concussions and TBI’s.”
     For more information on ImPACT testing or sports medicine, please call Penn Highlands DuBois at 814-375-3372 or Penn Highlands Elk at 814-788-8490.
     The other two facilities in the Penn Highlands Healthcare system – located in Brookville and Clearfield – will be adding ImPACT testing programs in the near future.