If your symptoms are not improving 3 months after the injury, your family doctor may suggest you see a specialist. There are very few specialists or programs that specialize in concussions and post-concussive symptoms. Waiting lists for services covered by OHIP are usually long.
As a result, more and more businesses (such as health and sports clinics) are offering treatments. Before you choose a clinic (or physician, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, etc.), it is a good idea to select a few and contact them.
Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask questions. You need to feel fully informed about their services and understand their expertise in treating those with post-concussive symptoms.
What questions should I ask a clinic before I choose it for treatment?
Here are some good questions to ask:
- What experience do you have in treating concussions?
- How many people with post concussion symptoms has your clinic seen?
- Do you have information on how many former patients have been able to return to work or school?
- What professional staff does the clinic have and what are their roles? (e.g., physician, occupational therapist, social worker, neuropsychologist/psychologist, etc.)
- What does an assessment session include?
- What treatments do you usually recommend for post-concussion symptoms?
- How will information be communicated with my doctor or others involved in my care?
Note: Beware of clinics that offer a “quick fix”. Remember, recovery takes time.
Also, be wary of any expensive or lengthy treatments that are not supported by research evidence. The Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation has published clinical guidelines for doctors and others who are treating concussions and their symptoms that are based on a careful review of research and best practices.
I am looking for care for my child. Is there anything I should know?
If you are looking for services for children and youth, ask the questions above, but also ask:
- What experience do you have working with children?
- What is your experience with the school system?
- Do you speak with the school and get involved in the return to school plan?
- Which Return to Play or Return to School guides do you use?
- Please describe what treatments typically include?
Is there anything else to think about when choosing a clinic?
If possible, make a visit to the clinic before deciding. If you can’t go in person, send a family member or close friend. Staff should be friendly, approachable and knowledgeable and the clinic space should be clean.
There are a few other questions you might want to ask:
- What is the cost? What are the methods of payment? Is it OHIP covered? (If you are working with a car insurance company or Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), will the clinic submit a treatment plan directly to the 3rd party insurer?)
- What is the wait time from date of referral to first visit?
- Where is the clinic located? (Consider the distance from your home and how will you get there.)
- What are the clinic hours?
- What is the cancellation/missed appointment policy?
- Is the clinic entrance accessible?