What’s The Big Deal With ImPACT™?

Anyone who is following the sports scene, or who has a child involved in a collision sport like football or ice hockey, has probably heard a lot about concussions. It’s been a hot topic lately, and there is a new tool in the diagnosis and management of concussions called ImPACT™.  So what is the deal with ImPACT™?

 Impact concussion test logo

ImPACT™ By Definition

ImPACT™ is a computer-based neurocognitive test, which is a fancy way of saying it is a way to test how well someone’s brain is working. We know that when someone gets a concussion, they get symptoms like headaches, dizziness and difficulty concentrating on things. These are symptoms the patient will report, but they are difficult to put an actual numerical value on – that is where ImPACT™ comes in.

ImPACT™ is a way to measure just how much brain function has changed following an injury by measuring things like memory and reaction speed. It is one of several neurocognitive tests available, but is the one most commonly used. It is also the test of choice for the U.S. Olympic teams and in most professional sports, including the NFL and the NHL. More than 650 colleges and 2,000 high schools throughout the country use the test, too, including the ones in Sioux Falls.

 About The ImPACT™ Test

An ImPACT™ test takes about 30 minutes to complete, and it is most helpful if the athlete has one before they have a concussion – we call this a ‘baseline test’. Then, if that athlete gets a concussion, the test is repeated and a comparison can be made between their baseline score and their score after the injury. This can then be used to make a prediction regarding the length of time the athlete will be out of action, to monitor their course of recovery, and to determine when the brain has fully healed. It helps make the final return-to-play decision.

 Who Is At Risk For Concussion?

Many high school athletes in Sioux Falls often have this test administered by their school prior to the start of the sports season. The test can also be given to athletes as young as age 10. Sports with a high incidence of concussion include:

  • Football
  • Hockey
  • Wrestling
  • Skiing
  • Snowboarding

Sports such as basketball and soccer also present a risk of concussion, although it is lower. I recommend any athlete or active individual who participates in a sport or activity where they could receive a concussion to sign up for a free baseline test.

I always hope that your young athlete will never have a concussion. But if they do, having a baseline ImPACT™ test will be helpful in their evaluation. The Avera Concussion Program offers a free baseline test to anyone who is interested – call (605) 322-5123 to schedule a test, or contact me at Avera Medical Group McGreevy 7th Avenue for more information.

By Dr. Samuel Schimelpfenig

Pediatrician at Avera McKennan

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One Response to What’s The Big Deal With ImPACT™?

  1. Click Rain March 1, 2012 at 4:05 am #

    Great article! I hope that imPACT will help make high school sports safer for our community.