Should your child have a baseline concussion test?

Posted on Thursday, January 21st, 2016

Concussion Testing

Concussions have become increasingly synonymous with contact sports in recent years, but we’ve also seen a significant rise in concussions affecting athletes in other sports, including volleyball, soccer, basketball and even cheerleading.

Concussions have become a hot topic, with Hollywood even lending its weight to this issue in a new motion picture. Based on a true story, “Concussion” stars Will Smith as a doctor who shines the light on the high number of head injuries in the NFL.

When considering whether or not to have your child baseline tested for a concussion, it’s important to remember that concussions can be extremely difficult to diagnose, and that there is currently no known method of prevention. Baseline testing gives athletes an opportunity to have multiple tests conducted when they are healthy, giving health care providers a comparison should an injury occur.

How to spot the signs of concussion

People who suffer concussions don’t look sick.

Symptoms can be hard to pinpoint and can be easily attributed to other conditions. Many people who suffer a concussion describe feeling ‘weird,’ or like they’re ‘in a fog.’ And, while headache is the most commonly reported symptom of concussion, patients also report nausea, dizziness, fuzzy vision, and sensitivity to light or noise.

To add to the difficulty in diagnosing concussions, current MRI and CT scan technology cannot identify a concussion. It’s crucial then, to monitor changes in mood or cognitive ability in the hours and days immediately following a suspected concussion. That’s why baseline testing is so important to properly diagnosing concussions.

Baseline testing

The science is growing when it comes to determining what are the best tests to use when assessing an athlete’s baseline performance. Current studies support reviews of detailed medical history (like the history of migraines), looking at neck movement, eye movement/tracking, memory, cognitive and reaction tests. 

At HPC, our baseline testing includes a comprehensive assessment by a Registered Physiotherapist and also uses specialized tests like SWAY , King Devick and ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing).

Our in-house Sports Medicine Physicians and Physiotherapists are qualified to administer the ImPACT test. In 2015 alone, HPC administered the ImPACT test to over 1000 local athletes.

What should you do if you suspect a concussion?

In the majority of cases, the signs and symptoms of a concussion typically resolve in seven to ten days. However, recovery times can vary greatly. Some athletes may require several weeks, or months to fully recover. 
If you suspect your child has suffered a concussion, have them examined by a medical professional and discontinue any physical activity until a qualified therapist has cleared them to play.

Remember: When in doubt, sit them out.

More information on concussion management.