Sports Medicine Turns to Telemedicine
"I've always been interested in applying technologies that make sense to medicine and trying to improve my practice, trying to improve access for patients, improve the experience patients have, and the value of the interactions," Williams says.
A common scenario goes like this: An athlete will sustain a blow to the head during a Tuesday practice or a Friday game, but the parent who needs to take him to the doctor cannot take off work for several days, or geography is a barrier, often for the initial appointment, but especially for followup appointments.
So, either the player's symptoms go unchecked and don't get care in a timely fashion, or due to lack of care or followup, patients are told by trainers to sit out for weeks or even skip the rest of the season.
"That's when I came up with this concept of using telemedicine and videoconferencing, and as it turns out, it was great," Williams says.
By sitting the athlete in front of a video session, the neurologist on the other end can ask the athlete to answer some questions or perform some simple exercises that help the neurologist confirm the concussion diagnosis and its severity.
And because injuries from concussions sometimes evolve rapidly, the ability to schedule followup assessments via video chat is a whole lot more convenient than scheduling a succession of doctor's office visits.
Now, more and more trainers are placing telemedicine "towers" (kiosks optimized for a video session) in their training rooms, so that injured athletes, with a trainer and even parents by his side, can be evaluated by the neurologist.
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