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​UPMC and Partners in Ireland to Create 1st Nationwide Concussion Network

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Affidea, Bon Secours Health System, ImPACT Applications Join Effort to Offer Testing, Treatment for Brain Injury

PITTSBURGH – UPMC announced today that it is partnering in Ireland with Affidea, the Bon Secours Health System Ltd. and ImPACT Applications Inc. to create the first countrywide network for the diagnosis and treatment of concussion in people of all ages. The UPMC Concussion Network will include clinicians specially trained in the model of targeted, individualized concussion care practiced at the world-renowned UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program.

Micky Collins, Ph.D., executive and clinical director of the program, with more than 17,000 patient visits a year, will oversee the network’s training and quality measures. Ireland’s leading diagnostics provider, Affidea, is providing the ImPACT® concussion test, while treatment services will be offered initially at Bon Secours and UPMC facilities

“We have made tremendous progress at UPMC in the diagnosis, management and rehabilitation of concussion, which is treatable when managed properly. By working in Ireland with partners committed to the same high standards of care, we aim to help not only school-age and elite-level athletes in Ireland, but people from all walks of life affected by this injury,” said Collins, whose program is a leading source for concussion research, with nearly 200 peer-reviewed studies.

The UPMC-led treatment approach will start with a comprehensive evaluation for patients, including ImPACT® baseline testing, available now at eight Affidea centers throughout Ireland. Administered more than 15 million times since 2002 and used by most professional sports leagues, colleges and schools in the U.S. and Canada, ImPACT includes a 20-minute baseline test that patients take on a computer to measure neurocognitive function such as brain processing, speed, memory and visual motor skills.

In the event of a suspected concussion, the patient repeats the test, and his or her post-injury data is compared to baseline test data to help determine the severity and effects of the injury, in addition to the course of treatment and rehabilitation.

Consultant physicians and physiotherapists at Bon Secours Health System, Ireland’s largest private hospital group, are being trained in UPMC’s concussion protocols and standards, and are offering evaluations and treatment at hospitals in Cork and Galway, complementing UPMC’s planned services at UPMC Whitfield in Waterford.

“Affidea already works hand in hand with many of the country’s major governing sporting bodies by providing them with a rapid, detailed and proficient diagnostic service,” said Barry Downes, country manager of Affidea. “For Affidea to offer this concussion testing service is just another declaration of our promise to care and look after our country’s athletes and patients.”

Added Michael Wahlster, chief executive officer of concussion software company ImPACT Applications: “This offering of baseline tests will be by far the largest effort to date in any European Union Country. UPMC, Affidea and Bons Secours have worked tirelessly and should be congratulated for addressing this public health issue in such a bold fashion.”

Niamh Lynch, M.D., consultant pediatrician for Bon Secours Health System, and Enda Devitt, M.D., general practitioner and Galway senior football team doctor, will supervise the clinical network in Ireland. Lynch has a special interest in neurology, and in 2016 established Ireland’s first concussion clinic for children. Devitt established the first concussion testing and management pathway within Galway Gaelic Athletic Association.

“Over the past two years, we have joined with UPMC to train clinicians in concussion management and to educate sporting organizations, players, coaches and parents,” said Bill Maher, chief executive officer of Bon Secours Health System. “The next step is to ensure countrywide access to effective, evidence-based concussion care, and there is no one better to lead this effort than UPMC.”

The UPMC Concussion Network is just one of several initiatives between UPMC and Bon Secours Health System. The two first collaborated in 2016 to form a joint venture in Cork that will own and operate one of the nation’s most advanced radiation therapy centers for the treatment of cancer patients. Expected to open in May 2019 at Bon Secours Hospital Cork, the new center will expand access to leading-edge radiation technology and clinical protocols for a variety of cancers.

The two health systems joined with the Gaelic Athletic Association two years ago to hold Ireland’s first nationwide concussion symposium — now an annual event where best practices, protocols and treatment techniques are discussed.

Collins is a developer and shareholder of ImPACT Applications, and UPMC is a shareholder in the company.