Pre-season test can help identify concussions

ImPACT testing results can be compared after head injury

The number of reported sports-related concussions in children and teens have doubled in the past 10 years as more coaches, parents and athletes recognize its symptoms and how dangerous concussions can be. While medical professionals look for common symptoms, such as dizziness, headaches or nausea, identifying concussions can be challenging since not everyone has the same symptoms and some athletes downplay any problems.

ImPACT -- which stands for Immediate Post-Concus-sion Assessment and Cognitive Testing – is one way to identify concussions. ImPACT is a computer program that measures reaction time, memory capacity, mental processing speed and executive functioning. The test takes about 30 minutes and is offered by most high schools and some middle schools before the start of a sports season. An athlete’s baseline test is good for two years so students do not need to take a new test every year.

If an athlete sustains a head injury and a concussion is suspected, he can take the ImPACT test with a physician approval most times in about 24 to 72 hours after the injury. That result is then compared to the baseline test. A physician will review and if there is a big difference between the results, a concussion is confirmed and treated based on testing results.

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