UCHealth Concussion Assessment Clinic (CAC)
The UCHealth Concussion Assessment Clinic (CAC) works closely with your primary care team to bring expert comprehensive concussion assessment, treatment and management. The CAC individualizes your recovery through adaptive care, ranging from recommendations for accommodations to transition back to normal school and work activities. This includes Back to Play requirements and “clearance” for organized sports.
Our concussion assessment and treatment protocols were developed by various experts across multiple specialties, both at UCHealth and beyond. This same multidisciplinary approach carries through to concussion treatment where a mix of physicians, physical therapists, behavioral health specialists, nutritionists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists work together to customize treatment and overcome concussion in our patients.
We understand how the complexity and limitations of a sport- or activity-related concussion can bring major challenges to your daily life. Take the next step. Get yourself to the Concussion Assessment Clinic, where our team of concussion specialists is waiting to guide you to a safe recovery.
Call 911, or go to the hospital immediately if you exhibit any of these symptoms:
Loss of consciousness, worsening headache, confusion or drowsiness, inability to recognize people or places, seizure, slurred or slow speech, frequent vomiting, or unexplained weakness.
What is a concussion?
A concussion can occur from a hit to the head, neck or body during sports, or any physical activity, that causes the brain to move inside the skull—affecting its function.
A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), and all brain injuries are serious.
What to do if you suspect a concussion
In Colorado, the Jake Snakenberg Youth Concussion Act requires you to remove your athlete (age 11-18) from play immediately if you suspect a concussion. Your athlete should undergo a sideline concussion assessment and see a physician prior to returning to play.
If you suspect a concussion, call the HealthLink Nurse Triage Line at 719.444.2273 for more information.
Physical and cognitive symptoms typically start within seconds to minutes and can evolve over the following hours and days. Check for concussion symptoms using the lists below.
Headache, dizziness, balance problems, nausea, vomiting, pressure in the head, sensitivity to light, visual problems, numbness, tingling, or weakness in extremities.
Feeling foggy or confused, difficulty with attention/concentration, or slowing of memory/thoughts.
Irritability, feeling of sadness or nervousness, or more emotional than usual.
Check for memory deficits: ask the injured person questions they should know from before and after their injury.
Memory of events before:
- What stadium/playing surface is this?
- Who were you playing?
- What day of the week is it?
- What month is it?
Memory of events after:
- How did you get hurt?
- How did you get off the field or playing surface?
- What is the score of the game?
About our Concussion Assessment Clinics
Our approach to sport- or activity-related concussion follows an initial medical referral from either the local urgent care, emergency room or primary care to one of our Concussion Assessment Clinics.
These clinics are found within UCHealth Rehabilitation facilities – see list below.
Early concussion diagnosis and treatment. All sport- and activity-related concussion assessments begin with establishing a clinical relationship with one of the many neuro-physical therapists who work at the Concussion Assessment Clinics. The neuro-physical therapist specializes in early concussion diagnosis and treatment. They are the entry point into our deep multi-disciplinary team of concussion care partners that includes sports medicine, neurology, neuropsychology and the many other rehabilitative services partners.
Call the HealthLink Nurse Triage Line for more information, and to get started on your road to concussion recovery: 719.444.2273
The initial goal of the neuro-physical therapist is to ensure that you have a comprehensive, personalized concussion assessment. This assessment may be covered by your insurance.* At the completion of this assessment, you will have a better understanding of any physical, cognitive and emotional limitations caused by the concussion. The assessment includes educational instruction and recommendations that span a wide variety of topics ranging from activity guidance, sleep enhancement, nutritional support and many other areas.
If the assessment indicates that you require school or work accommodations, we will provide a recommended list. Because sport- and activity-related concussion recovery varies, our accommodation recommendations are time limited, as a full recovery is always anticipated.
*Concussion assessments are also available on a “self-pay” basis.
The Concussion Assessment Clinic is made possible by the UCHealth Memorial Injury Prevention and Research Institute (MIPRI).
Concussion assessment clinics: Colorado Springs locations
Call the HealthLink Nurse Triage at 719.444.2273 for more information.
Sport- or activity-related concussions heal best when discovered early and when proven treatment steps are taken. Individuals display concussion symptoms to varying degrees and numbers. This is why setting expectations on concussion recovery must start with a personalized concussion assessment program. Research shows that with early, personalized concussion care, athletes of all ages and abilities have the best opportunity to recover and return to normal school, work or sport activities.
On average, a sport- or activity-related concussion takes 2 to 4 weeks to heal. However, additional risk factors such as prior head injury and underlying medical conditions can prolong the recovery. Be aware that resolving concussion symptoms does not mean a safe return to sport or competitive activity right away.
Following a graduated “Return to Play Criteria” is the best, safest protocol to return school-aged athletes—and other athletes—to active sports participation.
Reporting recommendations, accommodations, and Return to Play Criteria
The CAC assessment and treatment recommendations include individualized accommodations for you at school or work. These may range from class or work excusals to additional time to complete requirements. You will need to talk to your school or employer about these accommodations.
After your clinical recovery from a sport-related concussion, your medical provider will validate your recovery, and then transition you to a sport-specific Return to Play Criteria. At this stage in your recovery you must be free of all accommodations, and you must perform your school and work tasks with no symptom limitations (physical, cognitive and emotional).
Return to Play Criteria are typically performed under the supervision of athletic training staff or coaching staff. The CAC can assist with Return to Play progression, which follows these steps:
- NO physical activity, generous rest until symptom-free. This may need to include mental rest if symptoms are severe. (no school, video games, etc.)
- When asymptomatic, begin low level/light aerobic activities such as stationary bike and very light weightlifting. (No more than 30 minutes)
- Moderate exertion, sport-specific training without pads. (Running, skating, jump shots, shots on goal, etc.)
- Heavy exertion, non-contact drills specific to sport.
- Full contact in practice setting/scrimmage.
- Game-level play/activity.
*An athlete must remain asymptomatic to progress to the next level. If symptoms recur, the athlete must return to the previous level. Each step generally requires 1 day but could take longer*
With the collaboration of these dedicated community partners, the Concussion Assessment Clinics are able to offer a clinically expert approach for early intervention and concussion care:
- Academy School District 20
- Children’s Hospital of Colorado Springs
- Peak Vista
- Neuro Hope Psychotherapy & Neurofeedback
Our multi-disciplinary team welcomes other community partners to help us expand our local efforts of returning community members back to their daily activities in the safest and quickest means possible.