September 2, 2010
Fort HealthCare’s team of certified athletic trainers (ATC) recently introduced a new program called ImPACT. The program provides baseline concussion screening, to area athletes who participate in contact sports like football and soccer. ImPACT is the standard tool for many high schools, collegiate and professional sports organizations for concussion management.
The 20 to 30 minute baseline screening establishes an individual’s neurocognitive function baseline, which includes: verbal and visual memory, brain processing speed and reaction time. The Wisconsin Sports Concussion Collaborative (WSCC), of which Fort HealthCare has recently become a member, is the statewide partner for all healthcare organizations offering ImPACT. WSCC promotes the health, safety and academic performance of Wisconsin student-athletes and others by improving the education, identification, diagnosis and treatment of concussions.
If a concussion is later suspected, a follow-up test is administered to determine if results have changed since the baseline was administered. This comparison helps clinicians determine the best treatment of the concussion, as well as aiding them in making return-to-play decisions. Specially trained Fort HealthCare physicians Katherine Lemon, MD and Stephanie Nottestad, MD, are responsible for interpreting post-concussion testing and will consult with individual family physicians for cohesive medical care.
“When an athlete is not fully recovered from an initial concussion, they are at greater risk for recurrent, cumulative, and potentially life-threatening consequences of a second concussive injury,” Fort HealthCare physical therapist and licensed athletic trainer Julia Neppl says. “Research reveals that younger athletes recover more slowly than college and professional athletes after a concussion making medical management even more important.”
Signs and symptoms of a concussion can occur days, weeks or months following the initial injury. An athlete may experience chronic headaches, fatigue, sleep difficulties, personality changes, dizziness and deficits in short-term memory and problem solving.
Studies have shown that over 40 percent of high school athletes returned to play too soon after suffering a concussion. Even more alarming, one in six football players who sustained a concussion and lost consciousness returned to play the same day. ImPACT post concussion testing will take the guess work out of making those return-to-play decisions by providing a standardized assessment to doctors, athletic trainers, coaches, parents and athletes.
“Our hope is to help local athletes safely return to play after experiencing a concussion to prevent long-term complications,” Neppl says.
High school student athletes participating in football or soccer, at schools with athletic training contracts with Fort HealthCare’s Therapy & Sport Center, have received the ImPACT baseline screening. The cost of these initial screenings was covered by a grant from the Fort Memorial Hospital Foundation. This grant also will cover the cost of ImPACT baseline testing for area wrestlers when the winter season begins.
Parents may have a child screened for $15. Groups of ten or more individuals will receive a discounted rate of $10 per person. ImPACT post-concussion testing is covered by many major insurance carriers and baseline tests maybe used toward flex benefits depending on the plan.
If you would like to schedule a baseline ImPACT screening. If you suspect your child experienced a concussion or if a concussion was diagnosed, schedule an appointment with Fort HealthCare’s Therapy & Sport Center. They will objectively evaluate your child’s post-injury condition and track recovery for safe return to play. Appointments can be made by calling (920) 563-9357 in Fort Atkinson, (920) 648-8170 in Lake Mills and (262) 473-5599 in Whitewater.
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