School and sports are back in session, and both parents and their children should be aware of various sports injuries that can occur, such as concussions. Concussions occur year-round, however they are more common during sports seasons. Concussions tend to occur more often in contact sports such as soccer, football, hockey, and basketball. Nevertheless, they can occur to any child and can even take place when simply playing outdoors with friends.
Because of this, I believe that everyone should receive a baseline ImPACT test. Many high schools offer ImPACT tests, but only to their athletes. Pediatric Alliance offers baseline ImPACT testing year-round, for any child 11-19 years old, at any of our offices. Baseline tests should be repeated every two years.
Having a baseline ImPACT test on file in your child’s chart is important if he or she suffers a head injury. Concussions can be diagnosed by ImPACT tests in conjunction with the presence of neurological symptoms, which may include headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. When compared to a post-injury ImPACT test, the results of a baseline test can help providers determine if a child has sustained a concussion and how severe the concussion may be. It also helps us decide when a patient suffering from a concussion is able to return to school and, eventually, back to play, because it gives the providers an idea of how the patient is recovering.
The best way to recover from concussions is through brain rest, which means limiting screen time (TV watching, video games, and spending time on the computer) and physical activity. During sports season, it is also important to work with the school’s athletic trainer, wear the right protective gear, and stretch before physical activity in order to prevent head or other body injuries.
The reality is that concussions can happen to anyone, but it is important to understand the right time to return to play after a concussion — or any injury — because many times it is the second impact that could cause a sustained injury. By taking a baseline ImPACT test, physicians can better determine when it is safe for their concussed patients to resume normal activity.