Carolinas Trauma Network and Carolinas Concussion Network Expand Concussion Guidelines to Regional Communities

Carolinas HealthCare System is implementing evidence-based guidelines for preventing and treating concussions at care locations throughout the System as part of Carolinas Trauma Network (CTN) and Carolinas Concussion Network (CCN). Over the past year, physician leaders collaborated to develop guidelines that advance the level of care available in the Carolinas, resulting in a standardized approach to managing concussions so that patients have access to high-quality care.

Michael Thomason, MD Michael Thomason, MD
Medical Director of Carolinas Trauma Network

"Having these evidence-based guidelines available in non-trauma center communities enables concussion injury patients to benefit from the same level of high-quality treatment, wherever they live," said Michael Thomason, MD, medical director of Carolinas Trauma Network. "It is critical to identify and manage concussions early on so that patients avoid long-term brain damage and other lasting side effects."

To date, the guidelines have expanded into seven local and regional facilities, including:

  • Cleveland Regional Medical Center - Level III trauma center
  • Kings Mountain Hospital
  • AnMed Health - Level II trauma center
  • Carolinas Medical Center - the region's only Level 1 trauma center, which is the highest designation given by the American College of Surgeons
  • Carolinas HealthCare System Lincoln
  • Carolinas HealthCare System NorthEast - Level III trauma center
  • Carolinas HealthCare System Stanly

Carolinas Trauma Network was established in April 2011 to enhance trauma care at every care location across the System and meet the needs of patients who have experienced an injury. In addition to concussion guidelines, CTN has developed guidelines for fragility fractures, poisoning and plans to develop guidelines for domestic violence in 2013-2014. The clinical integration model for trauma guideline development includes five phases: prevention, pre-acute care, acute care, post-acute care and secondary prevention.

An important component of the post-acute management of concussions is educating providers who work with, or care for, athletes about the dangers of head injuries and how to recognize the signs. The System's sports medicine physicians and licensed athletic trainers have collaborated to develop a comprehensive post-acute care plan for athletes. In 2011, CTN partnered with Carolinas Concussion Network to expand concussion guidelines throughout the region. CCN includes a comprehensive team of providers who specialize in the identification, diagnosis and management of concussions for all ages. CCN addresses the needs of patients in their local communities, partnering with local providers who participate in the network to use and continuously improve common tools, resources and approaches to the care of patients who have experienced a concussion.

Lori Grafton, MD Lori Grafton, MD
Director of Brain Injury at Carolinas HealthCare System's Carolinas Rehabilitation

"The mission of the Carolinas Concussion Network is to provide appropriate comprehensive care to all patients who suffer a concussion regardless of location or mechanism of injury," said Lori Grafton, MD, director of brain injury at Carolinas HealthCare System's Carolinas Rehabilitation. By educating a variety of providers, we can ensure that patients get the best care whether their injury occurs on the sports field or in an accident. Providing timely appropriate care is the best way to prevent long-term complications of concussions."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that concussions account for as much as 75 percent of the 1.7 million people in the United States who sustain head injuries each year. A key feature of the concussion guideline model is evidence-based prevention program materials, as well as the use of neuropsychological testing and other assessment tools for student athletes. Additionally, clinical decision support tools are embedded into Emergency Department's electronic medical records for the management of adult and pediatric head injury populations.

Learn more about Carolinas Trauma Network and Carolinas Concussion Network