One of the key reasons for the Virginia Concussion Initiative was the realization that the one- size-fits-all approach from some of the national and even international messaging sources don’t always consider local resources and the ability of local communities and medical providers to have the ability to quickly implement best practices in their particular community.
Explains Dr. Shane V. Caswell, who has spearheaded this initiative, “Our first thing that we addressed was to understand the barriers to implementing best practices in our Virginia schools.”
Challenges facing school districts include rapidly changing science, a difficulty keeping pace with constantly changing requirements, and marshalling necessary resources and personnel to implement best practices and concussion management within the schools.
“We worked closely alongside our schools from a 360 degree perspective gathering information from all stakeholders involved in concussion management in the schools,” says Dr. Caswell.
What they learned within the first couple of phases of the Virginia Concussion Initiative was that school districts want tools that can be tailored to fit what they can realistically provide.
“We realized that schools needed tools that could be modified, that could be templates for them to use,” he explains. “Tools are being developed for primary schools all the way through secondary schools and individuals with developmental disabilities, as well as some pre-K assessment tools. The tools range from how to appropriately form a concussion management team in your school division, to how to develop policy, and we have created some model policies for schools. We’ve attempted to be mindful of things such as whether or not it’s a large school, a small school, highly resourced, not as well resourced, and providing tools for the web that are modifiable, so that they can be downloaded and used as needed.”
Tools are available through a web-based resource that’s been vetted by the Virginia Concussion Initiative team of experts. The goal is that schools have a one-stop shop where they access the tools that meet their particular needs in providing effective best practice concussion management for students.
“This should, we expect, reduce some of the confusion and the many voices on the topic of concussion management best practices and the advancement of the science to be more useful for all of our schools and meet them where they are at,” says Dr. Caswell.