The Right Time to put your Head First

by Tori Simonetti, ATC/L
HeadFirst Concussion Care Educator

The most important test a healthy student athlete can take is a baseline ImPACT test.

The baseline test is a computerized neurocognitive assessment of the athlete when he or she is injury-free. We hope an athlete never gets hurt, but if a suspected head injury does occur, the athlete retakes the test. The two results are compared and, together, become a tool in assessing the extent of the athlete’s injury, and when he or she safe to return to playing sports.

concussion_impact_testSince most high schools recognize the dangers posed by concussions and the risk of returning to play too soon, baseline testing is becoming a standard best practice at more schools. The majority of private and public high schools in Maryland are making the baseline ImPACT test mandatory for all student-athletes.

The test is set up in a series of brain games and takes about 30 minutes to complete. It measures your student athlete’s memory, reaction time, brain processing speed and concentration. To ensure your athlete is prepared to take the baseline test be sure he or she:
•  gets a good night rest;
•  takes any medications as he or she is normally prescribed;
•  wears his or her glasses or contacts;
•  take his or her time and reads the instructions thoroughly and carefully; and
•  stays focused, especially when taking the test at school or with the entire team.

Lastly, remember to relax and don’t be nervous! The test is not measuring how smart the athlete is and is not comparing their results to anyone else. It is designed to compare to any subsequent tests they may take in case of an injury.

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