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Sara Anne Wilkins, Chevis N. Shannon, Steven T. Brown, E. Haley Vance, Drew Ferguson, Kimberly Gran, Marshall Crowther, John C. Wellons III and James M. Johnston Jr.

Object

Recent legislation and media coverage have heightened awareness of concussion in youth sports. Previous work by the authors' group defined significant variation of care in management of children with concussion. To address this variation, a multidisciplinary concussion program was established based on a uniform management protocol, with emphasis on community outreach via traditional media sources and the Internet. This retrospective study evaluates the impact of standardization of concussion care and resource utilization before and after standardization in a large regional pediatric hospital center.

Methods

This retrospective study included all patients younger than 18 years of age evaluated for sports-related concussion between January 1, 2007, and December 31, 2011. Emergency department, sports medicine, and neurosurgery records were reviewed. Data collected included demographics, injury details, clinical course, Sports Concussion Assessment Tool-2 (SCAT2) scores, imaging, discharge instructions, and referral for specialty care. The cohort was analyzed comparing patients evaluated before and after standardization of care.

Results

Five hundred eighty-nine patients were identified, including 270 before standardization (2007–2011) and 319 after standardization (2011–2012). Statistically significant differences (p < 0.0001) were observed between the 2 groups for multiple variables: there were more girls, more first-time concussions, fewer initial presentations to the emergency department, more consistent administration of the SCAT2, and more consistent supervision of return to play and return to think after adoption of the protocol.

Conclusions

A combination of increased public awareness and legislation has led to a 5-fold increase in the number of youth athletes presenting for concussion evaluation at the authors' center. Establishment of a multidisciplinary clinic with a standardized protocol resulted in significantly decreased institutional resource utilization and more consistent concussion care for this growing patient population.

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Robert P. Naftel, Nicole A. Safiano, Michael I. Falola, Chevis N. Shannon, John C. Wellons III and James M. Johnston Jr.

Object

The Internet and social media are powerful disseminators of medical information, providing new portals for patient care. The authors of this study evaluated current technology hardware, Internet, and social media use and their socioeconomic relationships among caregivers of children with hydrocephalus.

Methods

A written survey was completed in the neurosurgical clinics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham by 300 parents of children with shunted hydrocephalus between October 26, 2010, and July 26, 2011.

Results

Computer use (94.6%), Internet use (91.7%), smartphone use (56.9%), and Internet research on hydrocephalus (81.9%) were prevalent. However, for each of these four utilizations there was significantly lower access by caregivers of minority races (p = 0.04, 0.03, 0.002, and < 0.0001, respectively), lower income (p = 0.02, 0.01, < 0.0001, and < 0.0001, respectively), and lower level of education (p = 0.001, 0.002, < 0.0001, and 0.001, respectively). Personal use of social media was prevalent (95.1% of all Internet users) with use being more prevalent among less-educated than higher-educated caregivers (p = 0.017). Hydrocephalus-related social media use (59.5% of Internet users) was not associated with socioeconomic factors. For hydrocephalus education on the Internet, caregivers chose information websites such as Wikipedia or the Hydrocephalus Association as preferred platforms; these preferences were followed by use of social media websites. Facebook and YouTube were the preferred social media platforms for personal and hydrocephalus-related use. Parents indicate moderate skepticism about the trustworthiness of the Internet; only 21.7% always trust the online sources. Most parents (89.8%) say that they would visit neurosurgeon-recommended websites. Of Internet-using caregivers, 28.6% use the Internet or social media to find hydrocephalus support groups, and 34.8% have used the Internet to communicate with other caregivers who have children with similar conditions.

Conclusions

Technology hardware, the Internet, and social media are widely used with some skepticism by parents of children with shunted hydrocephalus. Caregivers are interested in physician-recommended Internet resources. Socioeconomic factors including race, income, and level of education reveal a disparity in access to some of these resources, although all groups have relatively high use. Unlike typical technology use, social media use is breaking down the digital divide among ethnic and socioeconomic groups.

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Joshua J. Chern, Mitchel Muhleman, R. Shane Tubbs, Joseph H. Miller, James M. Johnston, John C. Wellons III, Jeffrey P. Blount, W. Jerry Oakes and Curtis J. Rozzelle

Object

Most children with spina bifida aperta have implanted CSF shunts. However, the efficacy of adding surveillance imaging to clinical evaluation during routine follow-up as a means to minimize the hazard of shunt failure has not been thoroughly studied.

Methods

A total of 396 clinic visits were made by patients with spina bifida aperta and shunt-treated hydrocephalus in a spina bifida specialty clinic during the calendar years 2008 and 2009 (initial clinic visit). All visits were preceded by a 6-month period during which no shunt evaluation of any kind was performed and were followed by a subsequent visit in the same clinic. At the initial clinic visit, 230 patients were evaluated by a neurosurgeon (clinical evaluation group), and 166 patients underwent previously scheduled surveillance CT scans in addition to clinical evaluation (surveillance imaging group). Subsequent unexpected events, defined as emergency department (ED) visits and caregiver-requested clinic visits, were reviewed. The time to an unexpected event and the likelihood of event occurrence in each of the 2 groups were compared using Cox proportional hazards survival analysis. The outcome and complications of shunt surgeries were also reviewed.

Results

The clinical characteristics of the 2 groups were similar. In the clinical evaluation group, 2 patients underwent shunt revision based on clinical findings in the initial visit. In the subsequent follow-up period, there were 27 visits to the ED and 25 requested clinic visits that resulted in 12 shunt revisions. In the surveillance imaging group, 11 patients underwent shunt revision based on clinical and imaging findings in the initial visit. In the subsequent follow-up period, there were 15 visits to the ED and 9 requested clinic visits that resulted in 8 shunt revisions. Patients who underwent surveillance imaging on the day of initial clinic visit were less likely to have an unexpected event in the subsequent follow-up period (relative risk 0.579, p = 0.026). The likelihood of needing shunt revision and the morbidity of shunt malfunction was not significantly different between the 2 groups.

Conclusions

Surveillance imaging in children with spina bifida aperta and shunted hydrocephalus decreases the likelihood of ED visits and caregiver-requested clinic visits in the follow-up period, but based on this study, its effect on mortality and morbidity related to shunt malfunction was less clear.

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Joshua J. Chern, Joseph H. Miller, R. Shane Tubbs, Thomas R. Whisenhunt, James M. Johnston, John C. Wellons III, Curtis J. Rozzelle, Jeffrey P. Blount and W. Jerry Oakes

Object

A large volume of patients presented to a Level I pediatric trauma center during and after a recent tornado disaster. Injuries of the central and peripheral nervous systems and the medical responses of a pediatric neurosurgical team are reviewed.

Methods

The clinical courses of patients who suffered cranial, spinal, and peripheral nerve injuries due to the tornado storm are reported. The clinical actions taken by the neurosurgical team during and after the event are reviewed and the lessons learned are discussed.

Results

The tornado storm system moved through the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham metropolitan areas on the early evening hours of April 27, 2011. Twenty-four patients received care from the neurosurgical team. A total of 11 cranial (including placement of an external ventricular drain), 2 spine, and 2 peripheral procedures were performed for the victims. Nine procedures were performed within the first 12 hours of the event, and an additional 6 surgeries were performed in the following 24 hours. Injuries of the peripheral nervous system often presented in a delayed fashion. Several key components were identified that enabled adequate neurosurgical care for a large influx of acute patients.

Conclusions

Massive casualties due to tornados are rare. A well-organized physician team working with the hospital administration may decrease the mortality and morbidity of such events.