Concussions & ImPACT Tests
Concussions are much more common than most people know. Unless you can spot the signs and symptoms, a concussion in your child could go undiagnosed.
Concussion comes from the Latin word concussus, which means to shake violently. The tremendous force of a blow to the head can create contusions (bruises) and a loss of nerve connections in the brain. These nerve connections help us perform basic functions like concentration, reaction time, short and long term memory, and visual cognition, as well as basic things like sleep, speech, and emotions.
Though we often think of concussions occurring from fast, hard-hitting sports like football and ice hockey, they can occur from any collision (including bicycle, ATV, and skateboard accidents) or contact activity (such as soccer, gymnastics, or even dancing).
How We Help Protect Your Children
At Kids Plus, we offer ImPACT testing in all our offices, any time we’re open – including Saturday and Sunday mornings. A baseline test doesn’t require a physician visit. A post-injury test occurs in conjunction with a physical exam by a provider. (Both Dr. Godinez and Physician Assistant/Athletic Trainer Travis Lewis are certified ImPACT evaluators.) We can discuss the results with you, and, if necessary after an injury assessment, refer you to a certified concussion center for more treatment. That’s why this baseline testing, especially for active and athletic children, is so important.
With ImPACT baseline testing, and with the concussion handout and discussion we provide after the test, you and your children will be more aware of concussions and the dangers they present. Most importantly, you’ll be better prepared to recognize and to treat concussions if they occur. Working together, we can minimize the risks and effects of head injuries on your children.
What is a Concussion?
- Any alteration of mental status due to sudden and violent rocking of the brain inside of the skull caused by a traumatic blow to the head or upper body
- Occurs in about 10% of all athletes in contact sports
- Symptoms last various lengths of time and may include amnesia, disorientation, confusion, fogginess, headache, blurred vision, nausea, fatigue and sometimes loss of consciousness
- Most people can recover completely as long as they do not return to exertion or contact play too soon.
What is ImPACT?
- ImPACT = Immediate Post-concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing
- Allows doctors to measure the severity and effects of a concussion
- Helps determine when it is safe to return to sports or activity after a concussion
- Developed by doctors at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program.
How Does ImPACT Work?
- A 20-minute, computerized pre-season or pre-activity ImPACT test provides a baseline that is stored in a computer file
- Test measures brain processing speed, memory and visual motor skills
- If a concussion occurs, ImPACT testing is repeated several times in the following days
- Post-concussion data are compared to baseline data to help determine when brain function has returned to normal and it is safe to return to sports or activity.
Why is a Baseline ImPACT Test So Important?
- Having a baseline report before an injury occurs is absolutely essential, because the baseline is the comparison doctors will use to assess changes or damage caused by a concussion
- If a child suffers a head injury, he or she can, as part of a comprehensive neurological evaluation, repeat the ImPACT test within 72 hrs of the injury
- By comparing the results of the baseline test and the post-injury test, and then considering them in conjunction with a physical exam, a doctor can determine if a concussion occurred, how severe it is, and how to focus therapy and treatment to recover
- Baseline scores last for two years.
Who Can Take the ImPACT Test?
- Individuals age 10 and over
- Athletes and non-athletes; for example: hockey players, football players, soccer players, baseball players, skiers, snowboarders, skateboarders, cyclists, cheerleaders, lacrosse players and recreational baseball and softball players.
How Can My Child Get Tested?
- Call any one of our offices for an appointment
- This baseline test costs $35, payable at the time of the visit
- You’ll get results within a week of the test.
For More Information
For a printable, downloadable summary of this info, see our Kids Plus ImPACT Testing handout.