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Urgent care center in Southtowns now offers concussion testing

Those who fear they may have suffered a concussion during a fall or collision may be able to save themselves the time and expense of a hospital emergency room visit because of new tools available in a Southtowns urgent care center.

WellNow Urgent Care – a Syracuse-based health company that bought seven MASH Urgent Care offices in the region last year and renamed them – is offering ClearEdge  and BrainScope One balance and cognitive testing to assess and monitor mild head injuries.

The services are available in the WellNow office in Orchard Park.

“With these new tools, WellNow is on the cutting edge of brain health, helping patients understand the degree of their injuries and the appropriate treatment and next steps available,” said Dr. John Radford, president of the company, which has 26 locations upstate and two others in Illinois.

Baseline testing also can be provided to help gauge whether someone may have suffered such a brain injury at a later point, as are follow-up exams that can help measure concussion recovery.

Testing is covered, at least in part, by most health insurance plans.

“It’s a good way that we can objectively diagnose a concussion versus just going off of people's symptoms,” said Kyle Violanti, a physician assistant who helps administer testing in Orchard Park.

ClearEdge testing – developed with SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse – captures data through two assessments: a cognitive exam conducted on a computer tablet that tests memory and reaction time; and a balance test that puts patients in different stances, including standing on one leg, to measure stability.

Violanti and others trained in the ClearEdge protocol will administer those tests to patients ages 8 to 18 – and expect baseline tests will become popular this summer for high school athletes preparing for sports next school year. The two tests take about a half-hour, and patients may be asked to return for complimentary follow-up assessments to compare new results against initial findings.

BrainScope is available to patients ages 18 to 65 who have suffered a mild, closed head injury within the last three days. (Those over age 65 should go directly to a hospital emergency room.) The 20-minute exam includes an electroencephalogram and two computer-assisted neurocognitive tests. Results are measured against those of an average healthy person who is the same age as the patient, said Julie Green, site manager in the Orchard Park office. A computer program analyzes results to determine if a patient likely suffered a concussion, and if it is severe enough to visit a hospital emergency room for a computerized tomography scan.

Kyle Violanti, a physician assistant with WellNow Urgent Care in Orchard Park, says ClearEdge and BrainScope testing help provide objective data to determine if someone has suffered a concussion. (Scott Scanlon/Buffalo News)

Results will conclude whether a concussion likely occurred or did not, how severe a concussion appears to be and whether further testing, or treatment, in a hospital or concussion clinic is warranted. The results can be shared with a primary care provider and, if needed, a specialist. Primary care providers who suspect one of their patients may have suffered a mild concussion also can recommend that patients visit WellNow for testing.

“Without this technology, providers are just guessing and usually we end up sending patients to the hospital because we want to be extra safe,” Violanti said. “Now we have the ability to rule out a brain bleed, which is pretty cool. And everything might take 45 minutes, versus four to six hours you can wait in an emergency room.”

For more information, call the Orchard Park office at 608-2226; to see current wait times at a WellNow center near you, visit wellnow.com.

email: refresh@buffnews.com

Twitter: @BNrefresh@ScottBScanlon

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