Sports-Related Concussions: The Role of Baseline Testing

2012-01-26T19:32:52-05:00Health & Safety, Protecting Your Kids|

Nearly four million young Athletes–one in 10–will suffer concussions this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The actual number is likely much higher as concussions go unrecognized and underreported.

Concussions are injuries that don’t play favorites–they can occur in any sport, at any level, at any age. And, whether they’re occurring more frequently or we’re getting better at recognizing them, data continues to underscore the seriousness and potential for long-term consequences.

When it comes to concussions, there are steps Parents, Coaches, and Team Administrators can take to help protect the health and safety of young Athletes.

A three-point plan of action

  1. Learn to recognize concussion signs and symptoms. The CDC has an entire library of current materials for youth sports coaches and parents. Plus, youth concussion laws are sweeping the country and interscholastic associations are tightening guidelines. Be aware of specific requirements in your state regarding education, informed consent, removal from play, and return to play.
  2. Be sure to follow the fundamentals of the sport being played–wear proper fitting equipment in good condition, teach proper techniques, have water available at all times, follow the rules of the game, practice good sportsmanship, etc.
  3. In addition to visiting your Physician for a pre-sport physical exam, add a cognitive “Baseline” test to your pre-season check list.

How it works

A Baseline test is a term for any test used before a treatment or activity. A cognitive Baseline test is one tool in an effective concussion plan because it measures what we can’t see– brain function. Baseline testing has been used for many years by professional and college-level sports programs. It is a best practice and recommended by both the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

As part of their pre-season prep, an Athlete takes a Baseline test before the sports season begins. This establishes a “snapshot” of their brain’s speed and accuracy. If an Athlete becomes concussed, they should seek appropriate medical attention. When physical symptoms have resolved, under the care of their qualified Medical Provider, an Athlete can perform a second test.  The tests are identical because repeating the same tasks after the injury identifies changes from the Baseline. This ability to compare results helps indicate whether the brain has fully recovered. It is an important, objective tool for qualified Medical Providers making decisions about when it is safe for Athletes to return to the classroom, practice or play.

A winning sports team requires everyone to play a role. Play your part by educating yourself about concussions and the role Baseline tests can play in the health and safety of young Athletes.

To learn how to offer Axon Sports’ Baseline testing to your players (and get a 15% discount), sign into your SportsSignup admin account and click on the new Axon Sports banner on the bottom of your homepage.