Telluride Medical Center Thinks Head First
by Watch Staff
Dec 01, 2012 | 940 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print

TELLURIDE – The Telluride Medical Center has partnered with Think Head First to bring a comprehensive concussion management program to the Telluride community.

The Think Head First program manages mild head injury and provides education and consultation expertise for sport organizations with concussion-management plans and education.

The TMC’s new concussion initiative will utilize ImPACT neuropsychological testing software as an additional tool for assessing and determining when it’s appropriate to return to sport safely after a head injury.

Laura Cattell, PA-C, who has been with the Telluride Medical Center since 2000, will head up the program and serve as the resident concussion expert.

“The ImPACT software is cutting edge,” said Cattell. “It allows us to perform testing to measure baseline cognitive function to be used to evaluate a patient if they’re suspected of having a concussion,” said Cattell.

Establishing a baseline test yields a benchmark for cognitive functions such as verbal and visual memory, processing speed, reaction time, and ability to focus and concentrate.

Concussive injury affects these functions of the brain, which a normal clinical exam and imaging may not detect. The ImPACT baseline allows the clinical ability to evaluate function, and as such, should provide an added tool in managing the recovery process.

Concussion management, however, involves more than just comparing cognitive functions. Through the program, Cattell offers coach and parent education, athlete baseline testing and education, post-injury on-site coach support and remote testing,

medical and clinical evaluation and follow up, and a multidisciplinary individual return-to-sport plan.

Melinda Roalstad, who developed Think Head First in Park City, Utah, is working with Cattell to launch the program locally. “It’s important to realize the baseline testing is a fantastic tool but only one part of program – recovery from a head injury is

multidisciplinary and includes managing nutrition, rest and sometimes even occupational, speech and physical therapies,” said Roalstad.

Cattell aims to enhance knowledge and understanding of concussions, a common sport injury, through education in the hopes of preventing the avoidable incidents; reducing the

likelihood of repetitive injury with the associated consequences of further injury to the brain and possible prolonged symptoms; and most importantly, to prevent second impact syndrome, a phenomenon where a person sustains a second injury to the brain before the first one is resolved. This syndrome can have devastating effects, causing permanent damage to the brain or even death.

Now, when any concussion case comes through the doors of the Medical Center, Cattell will oversee the coordination of treatment, follow the patient through the process, and evaluate them to make recommendations on therapy, etc.

Cattell is working specifically with students and sports managers to create a culture of concussion awareness and protocol. “Through working with teams and schools, we hope to reach more athletes to prevent the avoidable incidents that increase the risk of repetitive injury,” said Cattell.

Anyone age 10 through 65 can make an appointment with the Telluride Medical Center to have a baseline test administered. Avid outdoor enthusiasts and students are among those who Cattell recommends make an appointment for a baseline test.

Funding for ImPACT software and the Telluride Medical Center’s Think Head First program was made possible by a donation from the Fortieth Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

The Think Head First program was created in 2007 in Park City, Utah, with the vision of increasing awareness of concussion in sport through education and proper management of injury.

For more information about concussions, the Think Head First program, or to schedule a baseline cognitive test, visit

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