PA Director Contributes to First-Ever Children Concussion Guidelines

September 29, 2016

Paulk (left) and Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian-American physician, forensic pathologist, and neuropathologist who was the first to discover and publish findings of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in American football players.

Hospital emergency rooms and clinical offices across the world will soon have a copy of a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about concussions in children. And Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences’ own David Paulk was the sole physician assistant (PA) who participated in the workgroup that created it.

“The fact that I was the only PA on the group is indicative of the ever-important roles that PAs in general are taking in medicine and policy,” said Paulk, program director of the PA program at Murphy Deming. “The fact that we published the first-ever, evidence-based findings as to the acute diagnosis and treatment of [concussion] in children and adolescents is still surprising. You would think we had them all along, and we did not. These guidelines will save lives and reduce morbidity from something that it seems the general public is finally recognizing as a problem.”

Paulk has been serving on the CDC’s Division of Injury Prevention and Control’s Workgroup to Improve the Clinical Care of Youth with Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

According to the CDC, clinical guidelines such as this help the CDC’s Injury Center put science into action to help improve the care of children and teens with mild TBI that occur both on and off the sports field. And with the numbers of children and teens in the United States seeking care for mild TBI continuing to increase markedly, this guideline is needed. The workgroup — comprised of leading experts in the field of TBI — created the clinical guidelines for use in doctor’s offices and emergency departments.

“I am honored to be a part of this service to children, and pleased to represent the PA profession,” Paulk said. “I am also glad to represent Mary Baldwin University and the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences, particularly all of the wonderful, engaging, altruistic students who attend here.”

In related news, Paulk, Physical Therapy Director Lisa Shoaf, and Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy Lisa Burns met this week with Dr. Bennet Omalu, who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy in NFL players and who is aware of the CDC work on the mTBI panel.