Summer 2007 Issue

Carolina Sports Concussion Program
Introducing A New Arena Of Concussion Management

The upcoming fall sports season for local school and community teams brings new excitement and thrills for athletes and their parents. Unfortunately, these sports also bring the possibility of injuries and concussions. At Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, we’re taking a major step forward in the treatment and management of sports concussions with the creation of the Carolina Sports Concussion Program. This is the first program of its kind in the region. Under the direction of board-certified physiatrist David Wiercisiewski, M.D., the goal of the Carolina Sports Concussion Program is to accurately diagnose and manage concussions in athletes 10 years of age and older. Through ongoing assessment and by working with referring physicians, we determine when these athletes can safely return to sports.

Preventing A More Serious Injury
Recognition and proper management of a concussion
are crucial to avoiding additional serious injury. A repeat concussion that occurs before the brain recovers from the initial injury can result in brain swelling, permanent brain damage and even death.

The Carolina Sports Concussion Program offers complete medical evaluation for any athlete who has suffered a head injury and is suspected of having a concussion. In addition, we utilize a post-injury neurocognitive test, called ImPACT
, that allows us to objectively evaluate, document and measure an athlete’s various brain functions, including memory, processing speed, reaction time and symptoms. Post-concussion testing should be done as soon as possible after the injury.

Results of the ImPACT test are compared to established norms that can be used to evaluate the recovery process of a concussed athlete. Ideally, an athlete should complete a baseline ImPACT test prior to the start of the athletic season to use for comparison. This baseline test allows for a more accurate assessment of an athlete’s condition after a concussion.

The baseline test takes about 30 minutes and can be completed online at for a nominal fee.

The Carolina Sports Concussion Program offers:
• Complete patient evaluation by a physician
• Post-injury neurocognitive testing using ImPACT
• Baseline ImPACT testing (available online)
• Physical therapy
• On-site imaging

Through monitoring and assessment of the neurocognitive tests, we can more accurately determine when an athlete has recovered from a concussion and is able to safely resume sports activities. If needed, on-site physical therapy services are also available.

David R.
Wiercisiewski, M.D.
A Widely Used Testing Program
ImPACT is a user-friendly computer-based testing program specifically designed for the management of sports-related concussion. It is currently the most widely utilized program of its kind in the world and is used by the NFL, NASCAR, Major League Baseball, the NHL, and more than 200 colleges and universities.

Physician Supervision
David R. Wiercisiewski, M.D., serves as Program Director of the Carolina Sports Concussion Program. He is board certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and is a member of the American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, American Academy of Disability Evaluating Physicians, and the Brain Injury Association of America.

Appointments & Tests
Patient appointments for the Carolina Sports Concussion Program can be made by calling 704.831.HEAD (4323). Or go to for more information. In addition to physical and cognitive evaluations, MRI and other imaging services are available on-site, if needed, to rule out structural injury to the skull or brain. Our goal is to work with parents, coaches, trainers and other medical professionals in helping to effectively manage concussions and ensure the safety of area athletes.

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