Stacey Ritter’s highly decorated career- including being named NATA Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer, NATA Athletic Training Service Award, and District 8 Far West Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer- has spanned over 30 years. For the past 10 years, Stacey describes herself as a concussion specialist. Her expertise led her to opening Concussion Navigation Services; an mTI specialty clinic in San Luis Obispo, California. CNS provides both post-injury management and pre-injury baseline testing, into which she has brilliantly integrated technology. Combining Sway testing and telehealth has allowed Ritter’s geographic reach to extend immediately and across the country.
Stacey has utilized Sway’s platform in telehealth to cater directly to her needs. During virtual appointments, Stacey sends the patient a Sway code for them to complete a test in the app on their phone. She is able to observe, in real time, the patient completing the test, offering feedback, answering questions, and ensuring the tests are being performed correctly. Results of the test are in a report as soon as the test finishes. She can review and interpret them immediately, providing valuable information and education to the patient. Throughout the duration of treatment, Stacey and the patient can use the same code each appointment to retake tests and track progress of healing.
Telehealth has been the key to Ritter’s success as a small business owner. Because Sway can be used in any location, it has extended Ritter’s reach to see patients outside her immediate area of central California. She tells us about a patient who specifically chose telehealth services because they lived over 100 miles away, and their symptoms prevented them from being in the car due to motion sickness. By testing from the comfort of their own home, Stacey was able to be considerate of symptom provocation. Combining telehealth and Sway also allows Ritter to care for patients without ever losing continuity of care, or quality of healthcare provided.
Locally, Stacey serves her community by connecting with middle school and youth sports who don’t have access to athletic training care. Through testing youth athletes, Ritter collects data and has found “when making return to play decisions, we don’t want to have to rely on subjective feedback”. The data collected during testing, compared to the research based normative data, provides objective information to help inform decision-making.
Youth sports are most at risk, yet have the least available access to athletic trainers. Sway is a system that gives Stacey a platform adaptable enough for baseline testing as well as concussion management. The pre-injury Sway test data also allows Ritter to perform a risk assessment. Seeing certain factors, such as poor balance, in a pre-injury test may predispose an athlete to greater risk of head injury. Based on test results, she can give athletes exercises to improve their individual deficiencies, reducing their vulnerability to concussion. Other factors that stand out in a risk assessment include reaction time and visual processing speed. Ritter tells us when athletes work on improving these elements, pre-injury, it could possibly improve their athletic performance. For athletes like gymnasts, baseball players, and bull riders, these factors can play a considerable role in the success of their sport. This application of the data collected through Sway can serve a dual goal of “What if we’re improving athletic performance, as well as lowering your risk of head injury?”.
Stacey has embodied Sway’s DNA mission of increasing the quality of life for patients by doing exactly that for hers. With Concussion Navigation Services still being young, Stacey says Sway is the reason she could provide exceptional care from day one.