High school athletes suffer 100,000 concussions every year.
Many of those athletes will return to the game before their brains have fully healed, putting them at risk for more concussions and permanent damage.
Now, doctors have a new tool, and they say it is the gold standard for concussion testing.
High school soccer player Lia Whitmore was a part of a state championship soccer team.
Now, the high school junior now wears protective head gear after a concussion almost sidelined her soccer dreams.
Lia says, "They said that if I get another concussion, I'm going to have to quit playing soccer." (
It is a problem experts see often. Athletes back on the field before they have healed.
Dr. Melvin Field, Director of Florida Sports Concussion Program, says, "If you've had a concussion, and you're back on the field, still suffering symptoms from a concussion, then you're at a much higher risk of having a more devastating head injury or even death."
New research shows testing used a decade ago is inadequate.
Athletes are now urged to take a baseline neurological test. (:06)
Before the season, athletes take a twenty-minute computer test that measures things like memory and reaction time.
"God forbid they have a concussion, then they have something to compare it to."
Athletes are re-tested within 72 hours of a concussion. Their test scores must be at pre-concussion levels. They also have to pass symptom and exertion tests before playing again.
The test runs about $35 per athlete, but experts say it's a worthy investment.
Michael Dougherty says, "You're protecting what's going to be their money maker and their future, and that's what's going to be what's between their ears.
These are tests that are protecting heads and preserving goals.
In a recent report, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning admitted to doing poorly on his baseline tests, so he could remain off the injury report if he suffers a head injury.
Dougherty says he has systems in place to keep this from happening on the high school level.
If your child's school does not offer testing, you can schedule an appointment with a physician to have one done.
These pre-concussion screenings are available locally.
Just call the St. Joseph Regional Medical Center's Sports Medicine Institute at 574-335-6214, or Memorial Hospital at 574-647-2930.
WHAT IS A CONCUSSION? A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head or body, a fall, or any other injury that jars or shakes the brain inside of the skull. With concussions, there may not be any obvious signs of injury externally, but a person may have still sustained a brain injury. A person does not have to pass out in order to have a concussion and some people do not have obvious symptoms of a concussion; such as forgetting what happened right before the injury. Most people fully recover from concussions with recovery times averaging from a few hours to a few weeks. (SOURCE: www.webmd.com)
CHILD ATHELETES AND CONCUSSIONS: The risk of concussion is greater in young athletes than in older athletes. It also takes a longer time for kids to heal from a concussion than adults. There are many reasons for this but researchers say it is mostly because the younger brain is more vulnerable because it is not fully developed. Research also suggests that many concussions in kids go unreported because of a lack of knowledge about what constitutes a concussion. Many children are not given medical attention and are often allowed to continue to play. Sustaining a concussion and not seeking medical attention can be dangerous and even fatal. (SOURCE: www.knowconcussion.org)
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS? There are many signs that can indicate a concussion has happened but it is not always easy to tell if someone has had a concussion. Some symptoms are mild and some may last for months. Symptoms include:
• Blurred vision
• Nausea and vomiting
• Problems thinking and remembering
• Feeling slowed down
• Not being able to concentrate
BASELINE NEUROLOGICAL TESTING: Baseline computer testing is available to measure skills before and after a concussion happens in order to make sure a person is ready to go back to normal activity after sustaining any type of head trauma. ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is a type of baseline test that can be administered by team coaches, school nurses and athletic trainers and is the most highly used baseline test. (SOURCE: www.impacttest.com)
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Ashley White/ Media Relations