Houston Methodist Concussion Center, part of the Houston Methodist health system, is collaborating with the NFL's Houston Texans and General Electroic (GE) to fund a two-year pilot project to bring specialized concussion care via telemedicine to athletes in rural areas.
The pilot project will make telemedicine concussion care available to student athletes at 19 rural school districts, including Deweyville, Warren, High Island, and Leggett. According to a Houston Methodist press release about the pilot project, when a student athlete is pulled from a game or practice with a suspected concussion, a Houston Methodist athletic trainer will go to the school or training facility to administer a comprehensive concussion evaluation, including a neurologic and neuropsychological examination. Podell or another Houston Methodist Concussion Center physician will direct the examination via a HIPAA-compliant online video connection to provide a diagnosis and outline a treatment plan.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate there are more than 3.8 million traumatic brain injuries each year, the majority of which go untreated.
“Since the 2011 passing of Natasha’s Law in Texas, the diagnosis and treatment of sports-related concussions in Texas’ youth athletes has drastically improved,” Kenneth Podell, Ph.D., neuropsychologist and director of the Houston Methodist Concussion Center, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, many athletes, especially those in rural areas, still do not receive the comprehensive care needed to ensure a safe return to school and sports.”
“Replacing an office visit with a telemedicine visit can allow the student-athlete begin the correct treatment plan sooner and safely return to school and sports faster,” Greg Grissom, Houston Texans vice president, corporate development, said in a statement. “Many student athletes in southeast Texas are two to three hours from a concussion specialist, so this telemedicine program gives Houston Methodist a chance to provide the same level of concussion care as our players receive. We're proud to work with great partners like Houston Methodist and GE and excited to see this project make an impact with student-athletes.”
If successful, the pilot project may lead to a statewide program to give all athletes in Texas telemedicine access to concussion care experts at the Houston Methodist Concussion Center, according to the press release. Houston Methodist serves as the official health care provider for the Houston Texans.