Management of sport-related concussions has been an ever-changing process.
However, there has been a significant amount of recent research into sports-related concussions in high school athletes and when it is safe to return them back to the field, court or pitch after a concussion. McLeod Sports Medicine uses a concussion assessment tool to evaluate and manage possible brain injuries.
ImPACT, or Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing, is a research-based software tool used to evaluate recovery after concussion. It was developed at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and is used at all levels of sport, including high schools, NCAA, MLB, NBA, NHL and NFL.
ImPACT evaluates multiple aspects of brain function, including memory, attention, processing speed, reaction time and post-concussion symptoms. This program provides athletic trainers and physicians an objective tool to use in managing concussions.
Dr. Pat Denton, who is medical director of McLeod Sports Medicine, and Dr. Chadley Runyan, both of Pee Dee Orthopaedic Associates, are trained in ImPACT. McLeod Sports Medicine also aims to provide a safe return to activity for all athletes after injury, particularly after a concussion.
In order to manage these injuries the best way possible, McLeod Sports Medicine implements this program in the high schools that are staffed with a McLeod certified athletic trainer, which includes schools in Chesterfield and Marlboro counties. This tool is offered as a service to athletes who may be involved in contact sports.
The athletes have a “baseline” or beginning test performed before the start of their season. In the event of a possible concussion, the same test is administered within three days after the injury. These concussion tests are administered by McLeod staff at appropriate intervals, based on the athlete’s current symptoms.
The repeat tests will be compared to the baseline to help determine when it is safe for an athlete to return to his or her sport. McLeod officials say ImPACT concussion testing is an essential component in safe concussion management. It is made possible by a grant through the McLeod Foundation.
Julia Derrick works in marketing and communications for McLeod Health.