Doctors at UB's Concussion Management Clinic hope their research teach fellow health care professionals how to better handle this type of injury and help with treatment and recovery of affected individuals. Time Warner Cable News reporter Rebecca Vogt gets into the minds of researchers as they presented their findings this weekend.
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- For St. Francis High School nurse Luann Starzynski, dealing with concussions is a daily occurrence.
"A lot of athletes - we have about 40, 50 every year that are recovering from concussion either inside of school or outside," said Starzynski.
With so many students affected, she wants to stay up-to-date on this physiological injury. She joined fellow health care professionals at UB South Saturday for a conference put on by the school's Concussion Management Clinic. During the event, researchers stressed the importance of conducting physical exams to identify additional injuries.
"Things doctors are all trained to do in medical school," said Dr. Barry Willer. "It's stuff they take for granted. They would do it with any other patient but for some reason or other they don't realize they should do it with a patient with concussion."
The clinic also makes strides by establishing a baseline for recovery through a treadmill test. Concussions typically limit a person's ability to exercise.
"Put them on a treadmill, slowly introduce more and more workload until we see where the exercise intolerance is," Dr. Willer said. "We can treat you with any kind of exercise as long as that exercise is below that intolerance level. We know we're safe and we know they're going to get better faster."
This gradual-activity model is something Dr. Willer and his partner Dr. John Leddy have pioneered compared to past views of letting a patient rest until symptoms resolve.
Starzynski said, "We're finding that a couple days - not necessarily out of school - but a slower pace for them really does work wonders."
Starzynski explained she educates teachers and coaches about the importance of checking out and later, checking in on concussed students. But despite all this research, Dr. Willer added there's still so much more to be done in this field.
"It's complicated... For every question we answer in our research it raises two more we didn't think of before. It's a never ending battle - one we're delighted to be a part of," said Dr. Willer.