Concussion baseline testing

1. First, what is baseline testing?

Baseline tests are tests done before contact sports participation to determine an athlete’s normal performance.   Then, in the event we think a concussion has occurred, we repeat testing and use the baseline as a comparison.  Post-concussion testing almost always shows a drop in performance, which is followed by a return to normal performance, when an athlete is healed.

2. Who should do it?

Any child or teen who participates in a contact sport (such as football, basketball, volleyball, lacrosse, cheerleading, soccer, ice hockey).

3. What types of baseline testing are there?

The most well-known and the one which this blog discusses is cognitive testing.  This test can be done at home, if your child is over 12, or in the office, for those 4-11 years.  In addition to evaluation of cognitive performance before sports participation, it is also helpful to perform baseline testing on balance and oculomotor function; these tests cannot be done at home but can be done in our office.

4. How does it work?

The test I am going to show you is called ImPACT.  ImPACT is a computerized cognitive test which evaluates verbal memory, visual memory, and processing speed. ImPACT is the only FDA cleared neurocognitive test indicated for concussion.  For children 4-11 this test is conducted in our office on an iPad.  For those 12 and older, testing can be done either in our office or at home using a personal computer. To take this test, go to our website:  www.sportssafect.com.  Click on the tab: ImPACT BASELINE TESTING.  

Read through the instructions on the page.  The most important of which are:

  1. Make sure you have a quiet room at home and your child/teen can devote 30 min to testing, though likely he/she will be done more quickly.
  2. Make sure you have an external mouse. This is important because a laptop track pad will result in slower scores on reaction time.
  3. Make sure your child has a quiet test taking environment. It may help to wear ear buds and dim the lights. Also make sure his/her cell phone is left in another room
  4. Review the ImPACT screenshots at the bottom of the page which show snips of the test and give you an idea of the types of questions asked.
  5. Even though they have seen these examples, remind them to read all instructions before each section starts. ImPACT is a test different from any other, so not reading instructions well may result in poor performance which may lead to him/her having to repeat the test at a later date.
  6. When you’re ready to take the test, click the Pay Now bottom. This link redirects you to Paypal where you pay a $20 fee. After payment, you are then redirected to a new page with instructions for launching the test. 
  7. When the test is complete, we ask you to please email us with your child’s ImPACT passport ID. This will be supplied at the end of the test.  We will then send you your child’s scores and a summary of his/her performance. We will keep a copy of results in our files but you are also free to share these results with others as needed. 

 

Author
PAA Advance Practice Providers Our PAA APP's include: Annie Croft, Pam Dietrich, Amber Mercer, Erin Moore, Nikki Nutter, and Emily Woodard

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