Pilot project provides telemedicine to athletes in rural areas

The Houston Texans and GE are collaborating with the Houston Methodist Concussion Center to fund a two-year pilot project to bring specialized concussion care via telemedicine to athletes in rural areas. 

“Since the 2011 passing of Natasha’s Law in Texas, the diagnosis and treatment of sports-related concussions in Texas’ youth athletes has drastically improved,” said Kenneth Podell, Ph.D., neuropsychologist and director of the Houston Methodist Concussion Center. “Unfortunately, many athletes, especially those in rural areas, still do not receive the comprehensive care needed to ensure a safe return to school and sports.”

This pilot project will make telemedicine concussion care available to student athletes at 19 rural school districts, including Deweyville, Warren, High Island, and Leggett. When a student athlete is pulled from a game or practice with a suspected concussion, a Houston Methodist athletic trainer will go to the school or training facility to administer a comprehensive concussion evaluation, including a neurologic and neuropsychological examination. Podell or another Houston Methodist Concussion Center physician will direct the examination via a HIPAA-compliant online video connection to provide a diagnosis and outline a treatment plan. 

"Replacing an office visit with a telemedicine visit can allow the student-athlete begin the correct treatment plan sooner and safely return to school and sports faster,” said Greg Grissom, Houston Texans Vice President, Corporate Development. "Many student athletes in southeast Texas are two to three hours from a concussion specialist, so this telemedicine program gives Houston Methodist a chance to provide the same level of concussion care as our players receive. We're proud to work with great partners like Houston Methodist and GE and excited to see this project make an impact with student-athletes."

If successful, this pilot project can lead to a statewide program to give all athletes in Texas telemedicine access to concussion care experts at the Houston Methodist Concussion Center. 

“GE is committed to concussion research and discovering ways we can use technology to better protect all athletes – from youths to professionals,” said Scott Miller, US and Canada VP Imaging, GE Healthcare. “This collaboration presented us with a new opportunity to help athletes through their treatment and recovery phases.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate there are more than 3.8 million traumatic brain injuries each year, the majority of which go untreated.
Houston Methodist serves as the official health care provider for the Houston Texans. For more information about Houston Methodist, visit houstonmethodist.org. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook