Concussion Baseline Testing: What Is It and Why Should We Do It?
Football can argueably be called the lifeblood of Texas in the fall. As such we highly recommend that all athletes in Austin should get baseline testing should be done during pre-season. Ideally, it should take place prior to practice. Testing will be performed by a trained health care professional, such as a physical therapist who specializes in concussion management, or a trained athletic trainer. The purpose is to assess the athlete’s brain and balance function prior to injury. The information and scores gathered from baseline testing can later be used as a comparison if there is a suspected concussion. It can also help guide safe return to school and return to sport during rehabilitation. The assessment includes tests for learning, memory, concentration, and balance. It is important for the health care professional to be made aware of and note any history of prior concussion.
The ImPACT™ test is the most widely used and research validated computerized concussion evaluation system. ImPACT™ testing is a baseline screening tool that can be used prior to the start of the season and if there is a suspected concussion. It is a computerized nuerocognitive tool that will assess for attention span, working memory, attention time, response variability, problem solving, and reaction time. It will generate a score that will assist a licensed healthcare provider in evaluating the athlete for a suspected concussion and managing treatment. It is important to remember ImPACT™ testing is one tool used to assist the healthcare team in properly identifying concussion and tracking recovery, but it does not diagnose concussion and does not act as a substitute for medical evaluation and treatment.
Consider these steps prior to the start of the season:
Step 1: Baseline testing (pre-season) and injury prevention/detection education
Step 2: Concussion is suspected- remove immediately and perform sideline assessment
Step 3: Post-injury testing and follow up evaluation
Step 4: Medical treatment team develops plan
Step 5: Prepare athlete for return to non-contact play
Step 6: Determine if athlete is safe for return to play
If you or your organization are interested in baseline testing contact Great Hills ENT and The Hearing & Balance Center of Austin to schedule or speak with us about concussion baseline screening and concussion treatment. If you are outside the Austin Metro Area you can locate an ImPACT™ trained professional by clicking here.