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Neurology & Sports Medicine

I was the “back spot” at cheerleading practice one day on the Maine West High School competition team. Suddenly, the girl we were catching landed on top of my head. I collapsed to the ground and was really confused. My mom brought me to the closest emergency room, where they diagnosed a concussion and sprained neck. Our family doctor recommended that I be seen at NorthShore the very next day at its Sports Concussion Program.

Dr. Aaron Malina, a neuropsychologist, gave me a series of tests over the next two months to monitor my concussion. The tests checked my memory, attention span and reasoning skills. I felt exhausted and crabby, and I had constant headaches and blurred vision.

Previously, my mom had great care at NorthShore when she needed it, and so I knew I’d be in good hands. I like the fact that at NorthShore your records are computerized, so the doctors can pull up your test results, pictures or anything they need right there. They all have the same information, talk to each other and work well together. They know what they’re talking about.

“NorthShore doctors have the experience and expertise that helped me recover from my concussion.” - Rebecca Floral, Patient

The doctors also really care about me. They want the best for me – and for all their other patients.

Since working with the NorthShore Sports Concussion Program, I’ve been cleared to keep cheerleading in college at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. I look forward to my freshman year, and it’s thanks to the doctors at NorthShore.

Patients Benefit from Comprehensive Clinical Teamwork

NorthShore launched its Sports Concussion Program in 2012, responding to increased awareness of how an even a minor blow to the head can lead to serious health consequences. The program is just one aspect of NorthShore’s comprehensive sports medicine services designed to meet growing needs in the community. Specialists provide the latest treatments in concussion care for patients like Rebecca Floral, along with sports injury treatment and prevention expertise.

“Rebecca needed testing to assess the nature and extent of her concussion, as well as follow-up over several weeks,” said Aaron Malina, PhD, a clinical neuropsychologist who holds an academic title at the Pritzker School of Medicine “She and her parents also needed information and education about what to expect as she recovered.”

The program places important focus on safety, with an emphasis on preventing and treating all types of sports-related injuries. It offers patients easy access in multiple locations to a full spectrum of assessments, treatments and follow-up care from a multidisciplinary team of specialists. These include physicians from Neurology, Neurosurgery, Radiology, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Family Medicine, Sports Medicine, and Neuropsychology.

“The Program is committed to see every patient very quickly after experiencing a head injury to properly make a diagnosis and start intervention immediately,” added Dr. Malina. “NorthShore was a good choice for Rebecca because with one phone call we could bring her in quickly, provide the comprehensive services she needed and get her back to her normal life.”

NorthShore’s program benefits from top clinical leadership in the areas of head injury and neurosurgery, including Julian Bailes, MD, the Arlene and Marshall Bennett and Joseph A. Tarkington Chair of Neurosurgery and Co-Director of the NorthShore Neurological Institute. Dr. Bailes—a a renowned expert for his work on concussions in sports and their long-term consequences—also holds an academic appointment at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.

“Our Sports Concussion Program is unique because of the depth and breadth of NorthShore’s comprehensive resources and talent,” said Felise Zollman, MD, Director of the NorthShore Memory and Cognitive Disorders Program who co-leads the Sports Concussion Program with Dr. Bailes. “A concussion is a mild brain injury. Patients need to be educated about its symptoms and work with our physicians to facilitate full and timely recovery.” Additionally, the program recently welcomed renowned neuropsychologist Beth Pieroth, PsyD, to its team.

The physicians also collaborate by coordinating each patient’s care through NorthShore’s Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system. They work with primary care providers, athletic trainers and coaches, family members, schools, and employers to help patients return to their sport or normal activities as soon as possible.