Googling Concussion Care: A Critical Appraisal of Online Concussion Healthcare Providers and Practices in Canada

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Abstract

Background:

Concussion is an emerging public health concern, but care of patients with a concussion is presently unregulated in Canada.

Methods:

Independent, blinded Google Internet searches were conducted for the terms “concussion” and “concussion clinic” and each of the Canadian provinces and territories. The first 10 to 15 concussion healthcare providers per province were identified. A critical appraisal of healthcare personnel and services offered on the provider's Web site was conducted.

Results:

Fifty-eight concussion healthcare providers were identified using this search methodology. Only 40% listed the presence of an on-site medical doctor (M.D.) as a member of the clinical team. Forty-seven percent of concussion healthcare providers advertised access to a concussion clinic, program, or center on their Web site. Professionals designated as team leaders, directors, or presidents among concussion clinics, programs, and centers included a neuropsychologist (15%), sports medicine physician (7%), neurologist (4%), and neurosurgeon (4%). Services offered by providers included baseline testing (67%), physiotherapy (50%), and hyperbaric oxygen therapy (2%).

Conclusions:

This study indicates that there are numerous concussion healthcare providers in Canada offering diverse services with clinics operated by professionals with varying levels of training in traumatic brain injury. In some cases, the practices of these concussion clinics do not conform to current expert consensus guidelines.

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