Member Spotlight: Kelly Knollman-Porter, PhD, CCC-SLP

In each newsletter, we will feature an ANCDS member.  This quarter we're talking with Kelly Knollman-Porter, PhD, CCC-SLP, an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Speech Pathology & Audiology and Director of the Concussion Management Program at Miami University.

ANCDS: Please tell us about the Miami University Concussion Management Program.
Kelly Knollman-Porter (KKP): The Miami University Concussion Management Program is a multidisciplinary team of professionals who recognize that every concussion sustained by an athlete is serious.  We also acknowledge that each concussion, as well as every student athlete is unique and therefore should receive individualized pre- and post-injury care based on their specific challenges and strengths.

As director of the concussion management program, I coordinate all neurocognitive baseline and post-concussion testing protocols. Specifically I supervise specially trained graduate students in speech language pathology while they conduct testing procedures.  In addition, I interpret all testing data, educate the athletes regarding assessment outcomes, and make recommendations for the use of individualized supports and strategies following the injury to help the athlete best manage the symptoms and neurocognitive changes associated with the concussion.

Since the beginning of the program, we have administered over 1,500 baseline neurocognitive tests and have seen over 250 varsity athletes for post-concussion assessment and care.

ANCDS: How did the program begin?
KKP: The Miami University Concussion Management Program began in 1999 through the efforts of my colleagues, Stephen Dailey, MD and Fofi Constantinidou, PhD, with the goal to provide a multidisciplinary team approach to the education, diagnosis, management, and prevention of the neurocognitive and physical sequelae resulting from sports-related concussions.  The program has grown over the years secondary to open communication and a willingness to understand each discipline’s role and responsibility in the management of concussion.

ANCDS: How did you become involved or interested in the program?
KKP: I became director of the program in 2007 after working clinically for over 15 years in the medical setting with people with cognitive linguistic challenges following acquired brain injury.  I chose to come to Miami University because of the collaborative multidisciplinary focus of the team along with the strong involvement of student clinicians in the program.

ANCDS: What have you learned during the development of this program?
KKP: Collaborations with peers within and outside of the field of speech language pathology helped me gain a better understanding and appreciation of the interconnections between the neurocognitive, physical, and psychological sequelae following concussion and how these factors impact recovery.  However, most importantly, interacting with athletes directly following a concussion demonstrated to me how significantly these seemingly “mild” injuries can impact daily function.

ANCDS:  What changes have occurred over the years?
KKP: Over the years, athletes, medical professionals, and the general public have gained a greater awareness of the potential seriousness of concussion.  In 2007, very few freshmen athletes could recognize the symptoms of concussion with even fewer receiving pre-participation baseline neurocognitive testing in high school.  Because of mandated education and testing protocols, more athletes are receiving pre- and post-injury care than ever before.  However, current methods are not perfect.  We still have much to learn with a continued need to redesign pre-injury educational programs so every athlete feels comfortable reporting a suspected injury immediately after onset.  Finally, more research is needed examining the benefits of post-injury rehabilitative care provided by speech language pathologists, especially for those individuals with chronic post-concussion syndrome.