Calling Houston

May 22, 2017

A Houston-area neuropsychologist is working with 19 school districts on a telemedicine project to diagnose concussions remotely. The year-long, $100,000 project allows quicker treatment in rural areas, according to an article in The Houston Chronicle.

The telemedicine program uses tablet computers to do a video consult with Dr. Ken Podell, a neuropsychologist at Houston Methodist’s Texas Medical Center, rather than spending a day to travel to Houston. So far, he has diagnosed about 20 student-athletes, mostly in soccer and football.

“We put the Surface Pro on a stand and look into their eyes,” Podell told The Houston Chronicle. “If I need to see them standing up, they back up and I can examine them from head to toe. We can do neurological tests, balance tests, strength and neck exams and recommend accommodations.”

Diagnosing concussions via telemedicine has also been tested in rural Mississippi. As described in an article previously published in T&C, there are several steps involved with this type of program—including selecting a “telepresenter” for each school.

“Each school decided whether telepresenters had the authority to pull players from games if they sustained a blow to the head or neck and demonstrated symptoms of a concussion. If this did occur, the athlete and the telepresenter would move to the locker room or another quiet location to conduct the telehealth assessment,” Elizabth Joseph, a Project Manager in the Center for Telehealth at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, wrote in T&C.