Navigating the System and Becoming an Informed Consumer

Key Points:

  • The concussion care and recovery pathway can help guide you on seeking care for your child’s needs.

  • Becoming an informed consumer of Health Services and information will help you support your child’s recovery.

  • It is important and encouraged for you to ask questions!

General Concussion Care Pathway

There can be an overwhelming amount of information when it comes to understanding and navigating the various health services for your child after a concussion. Initially, your child should first see the family doctor or nurse practitioner after sustaining a suspected concussion. Thereafter, management strategies will depend on your child’s symptoms over time.

See ONF Concussion Care and Recovery Pathway [PDF].

Involving Other Health Providers

Sometimes, your child may need more specialized care, such as from a pediatrician or other medical specialist. They may also need services from different therapists, counsellors or treatment programs.

You may also come across information on other treatments and therapies from alternative sources, such as social media, friends, or advertisements.

Becoming an Informed Consumer of Health Services and Information

As a parent, you want to make the best decision regarding the health and care of your child. It is important to be an informed consumer when looking for healthcare information and services to help your child.

Here are some helpful tips and guidelines on how to evaluate such information and be an informed consumer when: searching the web, finding the right care, and considering alternative or complementary therapies.


Searching the Web

There is a lot of information on the internet. Sometimes it can be hard to know what information is reliable.

Ask yourself… can I trust the information on this website?

Health websites sponsored by Federal Government agencies, large professional organizations, and well-known medical schools are usually good sources of information. Website addresses are helpful in identifying the source of the information. Addresses that end with:

  • .gov identify a government agency
  • .edu identify an educational institution, like a school, college, or university
  • .org usually identify non-profit organizations (such as professional groups; scientific, medical, or research societies; advocacy groups)
  • .com identify commercial websites

For more information about evaluating health care information, take a look at these helpful documents.

What should I look for on a website?

Finding the Right Concussion Clinic

If your family doctor or nurse practitioner recommends you go to a specialty concussion clinic, choosing one can be a hard decision. This helpful interview guide [PDF] created by Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation gives you examples of questions you might ask. Click on each tip below to read things to consider when you are choosing a concussion clinic.

    Standards for Post-Concussion Care

    Not all concussion clinics provide the same quality of concussion care. For more information, please review:

    Health Care Providers

    Health care providers delivering concussion care should have experience working with patients with concussion or be supervised by someone who has specialized training or experience.

    Medical Professionals

    A medical professional such as a doctor or nurse practitioner should be directly involved in your care. They may be at the concussion clinic you are getting care at or at your main health office. They should receive information from others involved in your care.

    Cost for Services

    Some services are not covered by your Medical Service Plan (MSP). It is a rule that health care providers tell you how much these services cost and provide you with options to consider.

    Team Work

    For you to feel better, health care providers involved in your concussion care need to talk to one another and work as a team. It is important for health care providers to:

    • make sure you have the services you need during your recovery
    • work with you on things that may be hard in your day-to-day activities
    • always connect with the other team members who are helping you to get better
    • work with the doctor or nurse practitioner who will clear you to go back to work, school or play
    Family Physician

    If there is no concussion clinic in your area, a network or group of health care providers can work together to provide your concussion care. If you don’t know where to start, start with your family physician.

    Finding the Right Health Care Provider

    Sometimes, your child’s doctor or nurse practitioner may recommend other health professionals to help with managing your child’s symptoms, especially if the symptoms are prolonged or severe . If the health profession has a regulatory body or college, check to see that the provider is registered and in good standing. If you can, ask if the health professional has experience working with children or adolescents with concussions. In some cases, you may be able to meet with the provider for an initial introduction and determine if this individual is a good “fit” for your child.

    For a helpful resource, see 4 Characteristics of a Good Concussion Clinic [PDF].

    Questions to Ask When Considering Complementary or Alternative Therapies

    Many different complementary and alternative therapies claim to help people with persistent concussion symptoms. Although some may be helpful, not all such therapies have objective evidence to support their use. If you are considering incorporating complementary or alternative therapies to help your child recover from a concussion, it may be worthwhile to ask your provider some questions. For example:

    • Has this treatment been compared with other recommended treatments? If so, has it been shown to be better or no different?
    • How much of the treatment is needed to achieve the desired results and what is the expected time frame to achieve said results?
    • How much will the treatment cost?
    • What are the common side effects to this treatment? What are the rare but serious problems?
    • When and how would we know that the treatment is not working?
    • Why do you think this treatment will work for my child? What would change your mind?

    For a more comprehensive list of questions, take a look at Alternative Therapy - Will it work for me? [PDF].

    Action for Next Steps

    Whether you are looking for reliable health information or trying to find the right treatment and provider for your child, it’s important to ask lots of questions!

    Create a list of the questions with your child, print a copy, and bring these questions to the appointment.

    Bookmark this page for later