Network Devoted to Providing Schools with a Concussion Testing Program for Athletes
Lincoln, NE – Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center and Nebraska Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine has teamed up to offer the ImPACT Test through the Nebraska Sports Concussion Network & Testing Program.
For athletes who participate in sports that risk sport-related concussion, the Nebraska Sports Concussion Network & Testing Program will provide a baseline brain function test that provides data that can be used to better manage a concussion should such an injury occur.
"Symptoms are not always definite and the decision to allow an individual to return to activity is not always clear and that is where ImPACT’s data will help us,” said Daniel Tomes, MD, a neurosurgeon in Lincoln Nebraska and Medical Director of the Nebraska Sports Concussion Network & Testing Program. "
Most athletes who experience an initial concussion can recover completely as long as they are not returned to exertion or contact play too soon. Research clearly shows that the effects of repeated concussions are cumulative. A concussed athlete whose injury is not managed properly and who returns to play too soon before the brain has had time to heal is at greater risk for further, more serious injury, and that is a road you never want to travel,” said Dr. Tomes.
The Network’s aim is 3-fold: 1) provide a means for schools to improve their athletic healthcare program by implementing a cost-effective sports-related concussion testing program; 2) educate schools, coaches, athletes, and parents to recognize the signs, symptoms, and the nature of and inherent risks of sports-related concussions; and, 3) assist the medical community in learning contemporary methods for managing sports-related concussions and the progression for concussed athletes return to participation in a more consistent, objective, and safe manner using the ImPACT Test.
The ImPACT Test, developed by doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program, has proven to be a useful tool in measuring the severity and effects of concussion and determining when it is safe for concussed athletes to return to sports or activity.
With ImPACT, the athlete takes a 20-minute pre-season test on a computer that measures brain processing such as speed, memory, and visual motor skills. The individual’s baseline data are stored in a computer file. Should an athlete ever experience a concussion, they will take the ImPACT test again post-injury once concussion symptoms have cleared. Post-concussion data are then compared to baseline data to help determine the severity and effects of the injury. The data help determine when the athlete’s neurocognitive brain function has returned to baselines scores (normal) and when it is safe for the athlete to return to sports or activity. Current ImPACT users include all NFL & NHL teams, the NBA; Major League Baseball, including all umpires, numerous NCAA Division I Football Programs, including the University of Nebraska Cornhusker Athletic Teams. In all, more than 1200 high schools and 300 major colleges and universities nationwide utilize ImPACT Testing, including more and more high schools here in Nebraska.
The Nebraska Sports Concussion Network was established in the spring of 2010 with baseline testing planned for late July and early August for fall sports participants in 9th – 12th grades in a collision or contact sport (football, softball, and volleyball) at schools included in their Sports Medicine Outreach Program. Schools will have the option to purchase additional tests for other athletes or groups including junior high athletes.