As part of a $2 million investment in the future and well-being of the more than 5,000 student-athletes in Volusia County Schools, Florida Hospital is introducing the ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) software to evaluate and manage concussions. To learn more, we spoke with the new athletic trainer and liaison to coordinated care, Erik Nason.
What is a Concussion?
A concussion occurs when a hit, jolt or blow occurs to the head, causing the brain to be pushed against the inside of the skull and damaging brain tissue. Concussions can cause you to lose consciousness but often don’t. It’s even possible to have a concussion and not even know it.
After a concussion, it can be very difficult to concentrate, and cognitive and motor functions may be compromised. For a minor concussion, the healing process can take 10 days or more, and a severe concussion can take significantly longer.
Repeated injuries to the head while a person has a concussion is called Second Impact Syndrome. This syndrome can be life-threatening and have serious short and long-term effects, making it so important to ensure that only healthy students are playing sports.
Concussions are serious business and it’s not only sports that should be avoided after experiencing one. Those suffering from a concussion are often in no position to go back to school or work due to the noises, bright lights, required concentration and mental stress that can exacerbate the condition and slow the healing process.
About ImPACT Concussion Management
ImPACT is the only FDA-cleared neurocognitive evaluation aid with concussion-specific indications for those ages 12-59. It is used to measure major areas of cognition likely affected by a concussion.
“This cutting-edge software will allow us to better diagnosis student-athletes that have sustained a concussion and will assist in appropriate return to play,” explained Nason. “Concussions are tricky, and it can be difficult to detect if a person is still suffering from the trauma of the event, even by a doctor trained to look for the signs. This interactive software provides us a very valuable tool in concussion evaluation.”
The ImPACT Test is two-fold: Before the beginning of an activity, a baseline test is conducted to measure a student athlete’s neurocognitive performance baseline. If a suspected concussion does occur, the student-athlete undergoes a post-injury test which is then compared to the initial baseline data scores and helps determine if the student can safely return to play.
“The baseline test will measure a student-athlete’s visual and verbal memory, cognitive function, motor function, reaction time, and processing speed, providing us with a comparison to test against if they’ve sustained an injury and will give us valuable data to diagnosis accordingly,” Nason said.
When a student-athlete is injured, the newly ImPACT-trained athletic trainers, will be able to perform the test to determine if the child has indeed sustained a concussion. This will then allow them to set up a recovery process with the parents and the school to ensure the best possible recovery for the young athlete.
As part of this program, parents will also be educated on what to look for in their children, and how to care for concussions at home.
Recovering from a Concussion
Recovering from a concussion takes time and patience, which is not always a child’s strongest suit. This is why it’s so important for parents to be conscious of what’s happening in their child’s life. Early detection will save a lot of pain, frustration, and potential future injuries from ever occurring.
“When recovering from a concussion, it’s important to remember to take it slow,” said Nason. “Start slowly and build back up is the mantra for recovery from a concussion. Remember that each concussion is managed differently based on the current symptoms and medical history of the student-athlete. Children should modify going to school, watching TV, or playing video games for the first few days after a concussion. Mostly, they should be resting and taking it easy in a low-lit comfortable setting, like a bedroom. After those initial first few days, they can start going back to school for a few hours a day and then go back to resting per guidelines from their physician and athletic trainer. Eventually, depending on the severity of the concussion, the child will be able to go back to school full-time, and in time, be able to go back to playing sports after being cleared by the ImPACT system and their physician.”
To learn more about the ImPACT Concussion Management System, please visit their site. If you think your child has suffered a concussion and is not currently enrolled in a Volusia County school, please visit here, or call 855-303-DOCS to speak with a specialist and have your child tested.