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MU Health Care baseline concussion screening event open to mid-Missourians

A plastic realistic brain model is cut in half to show the inner workings of the brain.
Robina Weermeijer
This screening event is the first of its kind at the University of Missouri, said Komal Ashraf, director of the Concussion Program.

MU Health Care’s Concussion Program is offering a free baseline screening event from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on July 22.

Registration for the event, which will be held at the Missouri Athletic Center, 2902 Forum Blvd., is limited and available online at concussionscreening.timetap.com. Six screening slots will be available every 15 minutes for participants.

This screening event is the first of its kind at the University of Missouri, said Komal Ashraf, director of the Concussion Program.

“We now have a pretty established concussion program,” she said. “We have contracts with NCAA and NFL settlement programs. We have a great multi-disciplinary team of neuropsychologists, therapists, ... neurology, and sports medicine, and our concussion coordinator that really helps to facilitate communication with the community and getting patients in quickly because outcomes are improved with quick access.”

According to a flyer made available by the MU Concussion Program, a concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury resulting from a direct blow to the head, face, neck or other part of the body.

Kyle Oberweather, the Concussion Program coordinator, said the event is ideal for high-risk athletes, anyone who might suspect or had a past concussion, head trauma or have loved ones who show symptoms and could be at risk.

After participants sign in at the screening location, they can expect to receive a symptoms checklist which will cover the five major categories of symptoms.

The easiest symptom to recognize is pain such as headaches or neck pain.

Other symptoms include mental or behavioral health changes such as increased anxiety or mood swings, cognitive symptoms such as memory loss or difficulty multitasking, and movement issues surrounding balance or coordination.

Another symptom consists of changing sleep patterns which can start as excessive sleepiness and eventually lead to insomnia.

Concussion symptoms can occur up to a week after a head or neck injury because they are all intimately connected.

Following the checklist, screening will be done by athletic trainers, therapists or neuropsychologists at relative stations and will include tests such as Sports Concussion Assessment Tool evaluation, also known as SCAT, and Vestibular Ocular Motor Screening, also known as VOMS.

Patients will then be provided with the opportunity to sit down with a clinician to discuss their findings.

All of this information will be sent home with the participants so they can schedule a follow up with their physician or one of the clinicians working the event.

In the past few years, there has been a decrease in sign ups for football significantly, especially in Columbia, Ashraf said. However, there are ways to prevent head injury and still enjoy participation in sports.

“Training wisely is important, so making sure if you want to head a soccer ball you learn how to do it safely and properly,” she said. “There are devices that people suggest or are out there, but none of them are really FDA approved or part of specific training regimens.”

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