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Concussion Baseline Assessments for Young Athletes

Pre-season baseline assessments are used to help ensure the safety and recovery of athletes who sustain concussions.

Concussions are often difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are not always obvious and the injury to the brain is not necessarily anatomic, but metabolic. This means that damage is not always evident in tests such as computed tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests. Sometimes, players suffering from a concussion may even minimize or deny symptoms so they can return to the field of play sooner.

Baseline testing on student athletes is changing how concussions are identified and managed. All concussions are not the same and require individualized treatment until the injury is completely resolved. Baseline testing helps make sure that the brain has had sufficient time to heal based on each individual’s standard.

Neuropsychological Metrics for Baseline Assessments

Our sports concussion team uses the Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) test for individualized assessments. This computerized concussion evaluation system is scientifically validated and the standard of care for the determination of when to allow a safe return to play. Following this state-of-the-art national protocol, baseline reports will allow an individualized comparison for any suspected injury, including:

  • Reaction time to a 1/100th of a second
  • Memory
  • Processing speed
  • Player symptoms

Following any concussion during the season, the athlete will repeat the computerized test and additional tests that are sensitive to the effects of concussion, which will be interpreted by one of the sports concussion team neuropsychologists to help monitor the brain’s recovery. The results help determine when it is safe for the athlete to return to their sport or activity.

The ImPACT pre-season testing is not a diagnostic tool and is not used to determine if a student athlete is more or less susceptible to concussions.

If you have questions about our sports concussion program or concussions in general, please call 216-844-3422 to contact one of our specialists.