Putting heads together on concussion

ECU’s Nutrition Health Innovation Research Institute (NHIRI) partnered with the WA Concussion Network (WACN) on a symposium on the heavy weighing topic of concussion.

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Putting heads together on concussion

ECU’s Nutrition Health Innovation Research Institute (NHIRI) partnered with the WA Concussion Network (WACN) on a symposium on the heavy weighing topic of concussion.

The NHIRI 2024 Sports Medicine Series Western Australian Concussion Symposium: Mastering the assessment and management of concussion, featured both a clinical and policy focus.

Dr Myles Murphy, Early Career Clinician Researcher from ECU’s School of Medical and Health Sciences said this was the first NHIRI Sports Medicine Series Event for 2024, after running several successful events in 2023.

Dr Murphy said he partnered with the WA Concussion Network (WACN) to host this symposium, which was also supported by the Perth Concussion Centre at SportsMed Subiaco and the Connectivity Traumatic Brain Injury – two WA based leaders in current best practice and management of concussion.

The audience included clinicians, such as the lead for the Department of Health’s State Head Injury Unit, and policy makers, such as the head of the WA Football’s Concussion Strategy.

“Event Delegates included researchers, general practitioners, neuroscientists, neuropsychologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, sports medicine physicians and policy makers. It was great to see that the event was so popular that we had to cap numbers,” said Dr Murphy.

“The Symposium featured eminent WA presentations covering everything from how to diagnose concussions to the implications of the new national concussion policy.”

The event featured a keynote lecture by Dr Gill Cowen, chair of the Western Australian Concussion Network and Dr Mandy Vidovich, a renowned Neuropsychologist, as well a series of practical lectures and workshops for anyone managing people with concussion.

Dr Murphy explains that concussion is a condition that affects not only athletes, but can occur from a variety of incidents, including falls, motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents and as a result of violence.

“An accurate diagnosis of concussion early is so important to ensure people can refrain from high-risk activities until they have recovered,” Dr Murphy

“With athletes making up around 25 per cent of concussion cases, an early diagnosis is what keeps them off the field for adequate recovery.”

“My presentation focussed on how an assessment of concussion should include function of the neck and visual systems, as dysfunction in these systems drive concussion symptoms.

“What most people do not know is that the management of concussion includes treating a number of different body systems, not just the brain. Current recommendations are focussed on treating impairments to the neck, visual, exercise tolerance and psychological health to improve recovery.”

Dr Murphy noted some other key takeaways from each of the presenters:

  • Dr Gillian Cowen (General Practitioner and WACN Chairperson): The assessment of concussion should be comprehensive, with a specific focus on excluding other potentially more serious diagnoses.
  • Ms Jacinta Thorne (PhD Candidate, Curtin University): Blood flow abnormalities exist following concussion that are resolved by encouraging increase physical activity, providing no more than mild symptoms are provoked.
  • Dr Mandy Viduvich (Neuropsychologist): Do not forget the psychological impact of the concussion on the person, so be careful with how we frame what we say so patients are not anxious and worse because of our interactions.
  • Mr Troy Kirkham (Executive Manager at the WA Football Commission): Policy changes are happening at both a state and national level, but the biggest barrier to best management of concussion is currently socioeconomic.

The next NHIRI Sports Medicine Events Series is scheduled for the second half of this year and, if the WA Concussion Symposium is anything to go by, will be an event not to be missed.

Credit: ECU Newsroom

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