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Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries that can occur in sports, car accidents, falls, and many other kinds of incidents. With the exception of severe brain injuries that are accompanied by bleeding in the brain, concussions cannot be viewed by MRI’s or CT’s. Because of this it is important to have a baseline test to compare before and after results of cognitive function, balance, and reaction time. Typical concussion symptoms are fogginess/confusion, inability to remember the injury, and inability to remember the events before or after the injury. It is important to remember that every concussion is unique, and this makes it difficult to diagnose a possible concussion. You do not need to lose consciousness to have a concussion!

Here is a list of common concussion symptoms:

  • Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head

  • Temporary loss of consciousness

  • Confusion or feeling as if in a fog

  • Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event

  • Dizziness or "seeing stars"

  • Ringing in the ears

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Slurred speech

  • Delayed response to questions

  • Appearing dazed

  • Fatigue

  • Concentration and memory complaints

  • Irritability and other personality changes

  • Sensitivity to light and noise

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Psychological adjustment problems and depression

  • Disorders of taste and smell

Why should I get a baseline?

We recommend that all athletes get their baseline testing done prior to their athletic season. This allows us to accurately compare any post injury testing to an individual’s pre-injury score. Without having a baseline test, we will only be able to compare the individuals score to that of the general population. With every individual and concussion being unique, we prefer to have a baseline for comparison. An added benefit of concussion baseline testing is having the parents, coaches, and trainers be more vigilant in helping to identify possible concussions.

Historically, concussion baseline testing has just focused on memory and cognitive functioning. In addition to this, we also focus on the balance and reaction time changes that occur after a concussion. A study by the University of Cincinnati published in the Journal of Sports medicine showed that post-concussion reaction time was decreased in comparison to pre-injury reaction time. This decrease in reaction time can make the athletes more susceptible to injury. We believe that the athlete should be back to their pre-baseline levels before they are allowed to return to play.

It is important that you allow the individual time to heal from the concussion. Any exertion, whether it be physical activity or stimulation of the brain through reading/watching tv will increase the strain on the brain and delay healing time. We follow the following return to play criteria, as outlined by the CDC. For the athlete to even be considered to return to play, it is imperative that they are able to perform all daily activities and school work symptom free. Once the athlete is symptom free for 24 hours, we will begin the steps to returning them to their activity.

The progression we allow is as follows:

  • Light aerobic activity

  • Moderate activity

  • Heavy non-contact activity

  • Practice and full contact

  • Competition

If you have any questions about the article or about getting your athletes in for their baseline test, please do not hesitate to contact us! 

 

"Analysis of Central and Peripheral Vision Reaction Times In... : Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine." LWW. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 June 2017. http://journals.lww.com/cjsportsmed/Abstract/publishahead/Analysis_of_Central_and_Peripheral_Vision_Reaction.99483.aspx