Hospital's Concussion Testing Program to Expand

Program Serves Coaches, Parents and Student Athletes

The Concussion Management Program is expanding in the Waupaca and Weyauwega-Fremont School Districts to serve coaches, parents and student athletes.

“The study for risk of concussions has taken on a new emphasis with the updated information coming from professional sports,” said Riverside Medical Center (RMC) athletic trainer Gary Premo.

Expanding the concussion program allows real-time sideline assessments of an athlete’s condition with newly developed techniques. “Following the athlete’s impact and possible injury, we have new, portable devices that measure balance and visual impairment,” he said. “The sideline measurement is compared to baseline testing done prior to the start of the athlete’s season.” 

The RMC Health Foundation continues to invest in the Concussion Management Program to help the hospital stay with cutting edge and the latest devices. “We are looking to add the Sway Balance application, which will give us immediate feedback on an athlete’s change in stability,” said Premo.

Another addition, the King-Devick Test, measures impaired eye movements, language, concentration, and neurological functions that are a result of a concussion. “These additions integrate very well with our ImPACT baseline assessments, which measures neuro-cognitive ability,” said Premo.   

It is also important to educate students, parents and coaches, said Premo. “It takes a team effort to recognize and manage the concussion injury,” he said. “We rely on the player, the coaches, teammates, and parents to help realize that the athlete may have a head injury.”

Before being pulled off the field, a player is evaluated on how they are playing, like if they are confused or missing plays. “Once we get them to the sidelines, we can then start our evaluation by asking how the player is feeling,” said Premo. “We look for headaches, nausea, forgetfulness, and dizziness just to name a few symptoms. There is a strong desire by many athletes to return to the field of play following a blow to the head. But, their desire to return has to be balanced with the risk to their long-term health when determining the condition of the student athlete.”

Premo said the hospital oversees 14 high school sports, 1,500 student athletes, and it wants to  help every student-athlete involved be as safe as possible in the sports they so love to play. “I am gratified to say that people are recognizing the value of our role in reducing the risk of injury along with our evaluation and treatment of injured students,” he said.

The concussion program was introduced at RMC in 2009 under the direction of Premo, with family physician Dr. Daniel Sutton providing medical supervision. Financial support for the Concussion Program comes from the Riverside Health Foundation and the Auxiliary of Riverside Medical Center.

Riverside Medical Center is a 25-bed acute-care, critical access hospital located in Waupaca. Riverside Medical Center has previously been rated among the “100 Top Hospitals™” in the United States by Solucient, Inc. Riverside Medical Center was founded in 1955 and employs more than 300 people, making it one of the five largest employers in the area.

ThedaCare™ is a community health system consisting of five hospitals: Appleton Medical Center, Theda Clark Medical Center, New London Family Medical Center, Shawano Medical Center, and Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca. ThedaCare also includes ThedaCare Physicians, ThedaCare Behavioral Health, and ThedaCare at Home. ThedaCare is one of the largest employers in Northeast Wisconsin with more than 6,175 employees. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!