Community benefits most from new USF Health Concussion Center

USF Health faculty and administrators filled the neurocognitive testing room in the USF Health Concussion Center in Carrollwood as part of an informal celebration opening the new facility. Held Dec. 5, the gathering included many from USF Health who helped make the facility a reality.

“The timing for this couldn’t be better,” said Charles J. Lockwood, MD, MHCM, senior vice president of USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine.

“This Center is an important part of what USF has to offer and is a wonderful example of what we need to do in USF Health to take care of an entire population. Thank you all – I couldn’t be more thrilled about this.”

USF Health Concussion Center ribbon cutting

The new Concussion Center offers health care providers across the Tampa Bay area a facility dedicated to treating patients of all ages who have head injuries and symptoms of concussion. The Center includes specially trained primary care physicians who will effectively and safely manage concussion injuries, as well as offer access to an extensive network of USF Health experts in sports medicine, neuropsychology, neurology, psychiatry, neuro-ophthalmology, neurosurgery, and physical therapy.

“Concussion is very real and there was no place in the community where patients and parents and children could go and be treated in a meaningful way,” said Roy Sanders, MD, professor and chair of the Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Department in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

“Our hope is that people will come to realize this is a community asset, not only for taking care of their children, but also for research, which will make a difference going forward in care and change the way we manage care in the future. We hope this will be a stand-alone clinic that will get local, regional, statewide and, ultimately, national and international recognition. That’s our goal, and I know I have the right team to do it.”

From left: Dr. Roy Sanders, Dr. Charles Lockwood and Dr. Gianluca Del Rossi at the Concussion Center opening.

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Haley Pigott knew something was wrong when frequent headaches prevented her from participating in daily activities, school work, and soccer.

And she knew exactly what caused them. The senior student at the University of Tampa experienced soccer-related injuries this past summer that resulted in three different hits to her head.

So when she approached her trainer, Alejandro Arenas, he knew immediately she should see the team of concussion experts from USF Health Care at the newly opened USF Health Concussion Center in Carrollwood.

“The USF team was able to run the right tests to evaluate the full impact of my injury,” Pigott said.

The clinicians determined there was a problem with her vestibule-ocular reflex (VOR allows our eyes to move contrary to how our head may be moving, stabilizing the line of sight).  Physical therapy was scheduled, and a plan was created that slowly got her back to normal activity, school work and physical activity.

“I would walk 15 to 20 minutes, bike, or run, at a time and try to hit a target heart rate, then build up to the next level, all without getting headaches. There was a range I aimed for, pushing myself but not too much so that I ended up with a headache. I had to find that window. I am now symptom free and can work out,” Pigott said.

“I’m very thankful for all of their help. No way for our training staff to figure I had vestibule-ocular reflex. I had to find a specialist to help me figure out what it was. I’m impressed by what they have at the Concussion Center. I knew I was getting great care. This is a great facility to have and to use, a great resource.”

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Opened since summer, the new Concussion Center is an important advancement for the community, said Gianluca Del Rossi, PhD, ATC, executive director of the USF Health Concussion Center.

“Today represents a culmination of collective effort to open a one-stop shop that specializes in evaluation and management of concussion and serves as a hub for research,” Dr. Del Rossi said at the event.

Dr. Byron Moran takes questions from local media a the opening event.

“Much attention has been given to concussion in sports in the last few years, and there is a greater awareness among the general public. But in truth, the problem with concussion goes far beyond the sports world. We’re seeing it in all walks of life. Patients with head injuries of any type are welcome and will receive the individualized and comprehensive care that’s required to effectively manage concussions. That’s what sets us apart.”

The USF Health Concussion Center is located at 10330 N. Dale Mabry Hwy., Suite 220, Tampa, FL 33618.

-Photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications and Marketing