BENSON — A collaborative relationship between ApexNetwork physical therapy and a specialty service group in Tucson has allowed Apex to provide concussion care at its locations in Benson and Sierra Vista.

Tucson-based Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Concussion Care, a sports injury management provider known as SPARCC, is offering outreach services in Cochise County, said Andrew Milligan, an Apex physical therapist who works at the Benson facility. SPRACC specializes in sports medicine with emphasis on injury management and prevention, rehabilitation and comprehensive concussion care.

“By working together, we have created a situation in which we are now able to provide concussion care and other services in Benson and Sierra Vista at our two ApexNetwork locations,” Milligan said. “This is a great opportunity for the community because it allows them to receive badly needed services without having to travel to Tucson.”

SPARRC nurse practitioner Leslie Streeter works in Cochise County every Tuesday afternoon and alternates between the Apex facility in Benson, 569 W. Fourth St. and Sierra Vista, 2151 State Route 92, No. 106.

“We’re in Benson one Tuesday and Sierra Vista the other Tuesday,” she said. “While comprehensive concussion care is the main thing we do, we also conduct sports physicals, sports injury evaluations and help with injury management and prevention.”

Douglas resident Ariele Noriega is a medical technician and assistant who works with Streeter in the Cochise County locations.

Along with Streeter, the SPRACC facility in Tucson includes a team of doctors who specialize in sports medicine. They are Mo Mortazavi, Arvind Balaji, Brett Dusenberrry and James Dill.

“We’re excited about getting the word out about concussion care services in Cochise County,” Streeter said. “Apex graciously agreed to rent us a space in their two facilities, so the locations serve as SPARCC satellite clinics.”

Most people with concussions get better in two or three weeks and often don’t require anything more than a follow up with their primary care physician, Streeter said.

“For some people, the symptoms last longer than that, and they’re going to need to follow through with rehab,” she added. “We break the rehabilitation down into different trajectories, or symptom groups, which include head pain, vestibular issues, or vertigo (dizziness), visual symptoms, mood and sleep issues.”

There are a number of different components to a head injury, so it’s critical that the patient receive therapy to help resolve deficits that are identified through evaluations.

“Our goal is for kids to return to school and adults to work without becoming overwhelmed.”

Children can sometimes return to school part time, but may not be ready for a full-time schedule.

“There are cases where we write individual concussion plans, which is a list of recommendations with special accommodations to help kids return to school,” Streeter explained.

The idea is to allow kids to return to school, at least part time, and learn as much as possible without exacerbating the symptoms. Taking steps like providing students with printed notes or allowing them to wear a cap or sunglasses in the classroom to protect their eyes from bright lights are examples of accommodations that could be used.

“We treat whatever the deficits are and try to get our patients the therapy they need to get them functioning and back in school and work,” said Streeter, who noted this is an underserved area when it comes to concussion care.

Educating the community about sports injuries, especially concussions, is another area that Streeter hopes to be more active in.

“Andy (Milligan) is actually one of the coaches for the mountain bike team in Sierra Vista, and concussions are one of the main sports injuries we see in mountain biking,” she said.

“It’s been good to work with Apex,” she said. “After concussion, people often have a lot of vestibular and ocular issues, and we’re hoping to get someone trained to work in Benson so patients don’t have to travel to Tucson.”

Along with conducting evaluations and cognitive testing, patients go through exertional testing on treadmills and exercise bikes to help determine whether they are ready to return to school or work.

Noriega started attending classes at Cochise College, then attended New Mexico State University for her certifications.

Streeter earned her nurse practitioner degree from the University of Arizona.

For information about SPARCC, go to contact@sparcctucson.com or call 520-222-8076.

ApexNetwork in Benson can be reached at 520-586-3663. The number for the Sierra Vista office is 520-335-1615.