James Madison University

Professor Develops Concussion Management Education Module

By: Daniel Vieth
Posted: April 24, 2014

Screenshot - Concussion Education Tool

As anyone who has ever played a high intensity sport like football or soccer knows, concussions are a very real concern. Luckily with the rising community awareness that has developed over the past few years, much technology and research has been put into the prevention and treatment of these traumatic brain injuries. Despite this positive trend, however, some health professionals have noted a lack of focus placed on the management of concussions by the physicians who aren’t on the sidelines. With this concern in mind, JMU’s Athletic Training Program Medical Director and Health Science professor Dr. B. Kent Diduch created an education module for doctors to earn Continuing Medical Education (CME) credit from the Virginia Academy of Family Physicians (VAFP). This module received national approval this past December and became available for members of VAFP in January.

Unlike basic awareness, concussion management involves the ability to identify symptoms at the time of injury, the longer term treatment of symptoms and modification of activities for safety, and the ability to recognize when it is safe for individuals to “resume play.” While the athletic trainers who treat concussions every day usually focus on the first and third phases, doctors like Dr. Diduch saw a knowledge gap between the two where family physicians were involved. “That’s why we focused the module for the physicians on how do you manage the middle,” said Diduch. “This module is geared towards in-the-office kind of management of concussions.”

The push to raise knowledge about concussion treatment began in 2011 when legislation was passed by the Commonwealth of Virginia entitled ‘Guidelines for Policies on Concussions in Student-Athletes’. When the Board of Education implemented these changes, Dr. Diduch began giving lectures across the state to help develop concussion education and policy. “Working with the state and working with the different organizations, I knew that concussion awareness was there, but that concussion education for the providers was lagging,” he explained. Despite reaching the physicians who attended his lectures, Diduch saw the need for more health care providers around the state to learn about concussion management. “So how can we help them get the message at their time and their convenience?” Diduch asked. “That’s why we did the module.” 

Just like lawyers or teachers, physicians must complete a certain number of hours, or Continuing Medical Education credits, each year to maintain their state certifications. Realizing this potential to help educate a greater number of doctors across the state learn about concussion management, Dr. Diduch partnered with the Virginia Academy of Family Physicians to develop this module. “So if a physician takes the course, he or she gets two credits as part of their routine of what they need in a year,” said Diduch. “They need 50 per year.” In this way, the module helps physicians maintain their licenses while teaching them about concussion management in an interesting and engaging format.

Screenshot - Concussion Education Tool

Unlike most modules that simply ask the professionals to read articles and regurgitate the information on a test, Dr. Diduch wanted to design the Concussion Education Module in a way that helped doctors truly retain the material. “I took a lot of what I’ve learned in the teaching style that I have at Madison,” said Diduch. “You listen to a lecture at home, then you come in and work cases in class.” With the idea of “flipping” the module like he does with his students at JMU, Diduch set up the module in multiple parts. First, the learners take a pretest designed to help them identify what their needs and priorities are. They then watch a narrated PowerPoint lecture that Diduch created using the JMUtube software. “It’s designed to really allow a learner to use different techniques to learn,” he continued. The module concludes with an application-based posttest that measures if the doctors can apply what they learned. “They have to put their egos and knowledge on the line, take the test, and then get the feedback, not just the answers,” said Diduch. “It’s reinforcing the education, even when they’re taking the posttest.”

While the module is currently only available to members of the VAFP, Dr. Diduch intends for the course to be available nationally. “We’re hopeful that the Board of Education and the Board of Medicine say ‘we think this is a good tool, and we want to make it available to everybody’,” said Diduch. “So far it’s been pretty well received,” Diduch exclaimed. “I’ve heard from several physicians who’ve said they really liked it, really enjoyed it, and really got a lot out of it.” By using the resources and experience he has gained from years of medical practice and teaching, Diduch created a highly practical teaching tool that is sure to continue making a difference on concussion treatment across the state and eventually across the nation.

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