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High school athletes get baseline concussion tests | Health

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High school athletes get baseline concussion tests
High school athletes get baseline concussion tests

Sarasota, Florida -- As the high school football season approaches, a new program plans to make it easier to determine when it is safe for Sarasota County public high school football players and cheerleaders to return to the field after suffering a concussion.

Sarasota County Schools says before the first practice each student athlete takes a baseline neural cognitive test known as ImPACT, short for Immediate Post-concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing. The 20-minute computerized test uses patterns, words, letters, shapes and colors to measure memory, reaction time, speed and concentration.

The score the athlete receives on the test is the baseline. Later, if the student is believed to have suffered a concussion during practice or a game, he or she will take the test again.

If a concussion is suspected, the doctor first uses a set of standardized sideline concussion assessment tools and a balance-error scoring system. If the injury has occurred, the pretest and post-injury ImPACT test are evaluated to see if there are significant differences in the scores. Based on the comparative pre- and post-concussion test data, the doctor decides if and when the athlete can safely return to play.

“The baseline testing is such a simple thing to do, but it’s a great asset for our high school sports programs and for our students who play,” said Sarasota County School Board member and football fan Jane Goodwin. “It’s one more tool in our toolbox to help ensure the safety of our young athletes.”

This year’s ImPACT pilot program is being funded by Dick’s Sporting Goods. The district says it hopes to expand the program to athletes in other sports next year.

Info courtesy Sarasota County Schools