Protecting our Athletes Health with Innovative Testing
The Northland Pines High School athletic department will be implementing an innovative program for our student-athletes this year. The program is offered as part of the athletic training package provided by Marshfield Clinic which allows the entire package to be paid for from a grant from the clinic. This program will assist our team physicians/athletic trainers in evaluating and treating head injuries (e.g., concussion). In order to better manage concussions sustained by our student-athletes, we have acquired a software tool called ImPACT (Immediate Post Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing). ImPACT is a computerized exam utilized in many professional, collegiate, and high school sports programs across the country to successfully diagnose and manage concussions. If an athlete is believed to have suffered a head injury during competition, ImPACT is used to help determine the severity of the head injury and when the injury has fully healed.
The computerized exam is given to athletes before beginning contact sport practice or competition. This non-invasive test is set up in “video-game” type format and takes about 15-20 minutes to complete. It is simple, and actually many athletes enjoy the challenge of taking the test. Essentially, the ImPACT test is a preseason physical of the brain. It tracks information such as memory, reaction time, speed, and concentration. It, however, is not an IQ test.
If a concussion is suspected, the athlete will be required to re-take the test. Both the preseason and post-injury test data is given to a local doctor to help evaluate the injury. The information gathered can also be shared with your family doctor. The test data will enable these health professionals to determine when return-to-play is appropriate and safe for the injured athlete.
We are excited to implement this program given that it provides us the best available information for managing concussions and preventing potential brain damage that can occur with multiple concussions. The Northland Pines High School administration, coaching, and athletic training staffs are striving to keep our student’s health and safety at the forefront of the student athletic experience.