Think Head First brings a comprehensive and cutting edge concussion protocol to the Med Center

In November, the Telluride Medical Center announced a partnership with Think Head First to offer 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 in the area of concussion management.

The Telluride Medical Center’s Think Head First initiative will utilize ImPACT
Neuropsychological testing software as an additional tool for assessing and determining
when it is 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. It allows us to perform testing to measure
baseline cognitive function to be used to evaluate a patient if they’re suspected of 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 those functions of the brain which, with normal clinical exam and imaging, are not readily apparent. Thus, the baseline ImPACT results add 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 the 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 the knowledge and understanding of concussions, a common sport injury, through education. The hope is to prevent the avoidable incidents, reduce 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. This is 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 that comes through the doors of the Telluride Medical Center, Cattell will oversee the coordination of treatment, follow the patient through the process, and evaluate him/her 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 – 65 can make an appointment with the Telluride Medical Center
to have a baseline test administered. Avid outdoor enthusiasts and students are among
those Cattell recommends make an appointment.

Funding for ImPACT software and the Telluride Medical Center’s Think Head First
program was made possible by a donation from the 40th 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

About Laura Cattell:

A Nationally Certified Physician’s Assistant, Cattell specializes in concussion
management and treatment, families, women’s health issues, preventative medicine anddermatology. She’s been with the Telluride Medical Center since 2000.

About Melinda Roalstad:

Roalstad is a Nationally Certified Physician’s Assistant and along with Wain Allen, MD,
the founder of Think Head First in Park City, Utah. She is the former Medical Director
for US Ski & Snowboard Association and implemented a concussion management
program utilizing ImPACT for clinically assessing elite and Olympic level athletes from
2003-2007. Additionally, and probably most importantly, she established FIS guidelines for concussion management. Melinda is clinically certified in ImPACT assessments.

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