Concussion management is a different kind of healthcare. We hear talk about the evolution of medicine, things like medical homes, integrated care, and the importance of a “multidisciplinary approach,” but concussion care seems to represent the touchpoint of the conflict between the ideal vs. the practical and the jockeying for what seems to be the ever-increasing competition for sports medicine revenues.
But what is multidisciplinary, really? Seems to me that the answer is more than just semantics, as it seems to get at the heart of what’s wrong with most of the big-business approaches to managing concussions that highlight widescale baseline testing and one-size-fits-all care.
The term “multidisciplinary” is used to represent the need to involve various disciplines (medical specialties) to manage an illness or injury. With concussions affecting so many different systems – medical, cognitive, affective – that seems to make sense.
Yet, I think what we really mean – and need – is interdisciplinary, not multidisciplinary, since the former better represents the team approach to achieve the common, SHARED goals that should be our primary focus in helping injured athletes return to what they love. To best achieve that, however, we need to pay attention to the language that we use to represent what we do, starting with intradisciplinary vs. multidisciplinary, along with we vs. I, and our vs. my. As my northern colleague Dr. Michael Ellis recently tweeted, the best concussion care is harmonized. The epitome of a team approach. After all, isn’t that what true sports medicine should be about?