Hope and Help to Manage Long-term Concussion Symptoms
Patients often say they can’t find easily understood information when their concussion symptoms are prolonged. The Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation (ONF) has addressed this issue in the new edition
of “Guideline for Concussion/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) and Persistent Symptoms.” This evidence-informed guideline is now available to healthcare providers and, for the first time, the document now features an easy-to-navigate patient-friendly version.
Once thought to be a brain injury that would resolve itself quickly, evidence now shows that there can be long-term consequences of concussion that are significant and management requirements are more complex than was understood even 20 years ago.
“We believe this guideline will give people strategies to help them better cope when a concussion does not heal according to their expectations,” says Dr Shawn Marshall, an Ottawa-based physician and researcher associated with The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, and the Chair of the ONF Concussion Guidelines project team. “The team had feedback that patients would benefit from access to understandable and reliable information.”
As with past guidelines and standards developed by ONF, the third edition of the concussion guidelines for healthcare providers is grounded in recent research and the knowledge of healthcare providers from physicians and nurse practitioners to neuropsychologists, physiotherapists and organizations representing patients.
Dr. Marshall has heard from patients and colleagues that patients often showed up in their doctors’ office with a copy of the healthcare provider guidelines in hand, hoping they would provide helpful information during their discussion. “Frankly we know patients, family and general practice physicians have to work as a team using dependable and evidence-based quality information.”
The new patient guidelines were reviewed by patients themselves. One patient who participated in the review process says, “With the knowledge comes power, in terms of referrals. So, had I had the knowledge…I would’ve gone forward to request other referrals sooner, and that may have made a difference, not only to access supports and services, but to rehabilitation in a faster form.”
“This patient-focused guideline has been developed by the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation (ONF) in consultation with patients, their families and a broad team of healthcare professionals and researchers with knowledge of the most up-to-date information,” says Corinne Kagan, Senior Program Director, Acquired Brain Injury (ABI). “We heard through our healthcare provider networks and directly from patients that there was a gap in the kind of practical, evidence-informed information available in simple, clear language. The patient version addresses this gap.”