Complex Concussion Clinic

Concussions, which are mild traumatic brain injuries caused by a sudden jolt or blow to the head, typically 
resolve within a week or two. In typical concussions, headaches and other symptoms subside, and patients return to work, school or the playing field, feeling as capable as they did before their injury. But about 20 percent of cases present a more difficult scenario, with complications that fall beyond the scope of primary care physicians.

For these cases, Shepherd Center’s Complex Concussion Clinic offers comprehensive assessment and treatment by a team of specialists in neurology, vestibular and balance disorders, athletic training, rehabilitation medicine, neuropsychology and neurosurgery.

Concussions can affect different brain networks, and swiftly addressing the range of impairments can speed the patient’s recovery. The Complex Concussion Clinic streamlines care by providing interdisciplinary resources at a single site. The patient evaluation includes cognitive, ocular-motor, vestibular and balance testing, and, when needed, advanced imaging using three-dimensional and high-resolution technology.

The Complex Concussion Clinic care team meets to develop a personalized treatment plan. Complex concussion patients often have problems that involve balance, pain, mood, attention, light sensitivity and sleep. They may be athletes who want to return to their sport, students who are missing school or employees who are losing time from work. The clinic’s extensive program provides recreation therapy, cognitive therapy, occupational therapy, psychological counseling, vestibular therapy for dizziness and balance, and athletic training.

Patients can access the Complex Concussion Clinic through a referral by their frontline provider, which could be a sports medicine, emergency room or primary care physician or athletic trainer. Referral is appropriate for patients who:

  • Have dizziness, balance problems and nausea lasting more than a few days after the injury.
  • Have dizziness and difficulty sleeping or concentrating two to three weeks after injury.
  • Had a prior concussion that required an extended recovery.
  • Have a history of migraines or learning challenges.

Goals

We strive to return patients to their full activity and performance level as quickly and as safely as possible. While cognitive rest may be necessary for up to 48 hours after injury, we determine when patients need active therapy to prevent long-term complications and to spark recovery. We seek the best outcome for every patient while minimizing the use of medications, which can mask symptoms and cause side effects that impede progress.

Treatment duration varies based on individual needs, but typically involves outpatient visits for eight to 12 weeks. We serve adolescents, as well as adults, in our 4,000-square-foot therapy space, which has state-of-the-art equipment for strengthening, athletic conditioning and balance, oculomotor training and gait training.

The Complex Concussion Clinic builds on the experiences of clinicians in Shepherd Center’s SHARE Military Initiative, which provides care for service men and women who sustained mild to moderate traumatic brain injury. Their injuries are usually blast-related – as opposed to the sports injuries, falls and motor vehicle accidents that comprise most of the cases seen by the Complex Concussion Clinic. But much has been learned from the successful rehabilitation of our military clients.

Shepherd Center also has a long history of supporting professional, collegiate and youth sports teams. Using telemedicine, our specialists consult with coaches, athletes, parents and school officials to ensure safe return to play. We also assist in designing temporary accommodations as needed to enable patients to return to school or work.

Complex concussions can be troubling for patients and medically challenging for frontline physicians. Our focused approach to care can significantly reduce recovery time and improve patient outcomes.

Contact

Complex Concussion Clinic
Shepherd Center
2020 Peachtree Road NW
Atlanta, GA 30309

Phone: 404-603-4980

cheryl_appleberry@shepherd.org.