Importance of ImPACT Testing
While much emphasis is placed on head injuries, and rightfully so, not enough emphasis is placed on the baseline ImPACT test and how it can make it easier for your doctor or healthcare professional to do their job. Baseline ImPACT tests should ideally be taken before the start of sports, only take about 30 minutes to complete, and can be used for comparison after a concussion. These 30 minutes could save weeks or months of being out of your desired sport or activity following a concussion if it is not perfectly clear to the doctor when brain function returns to normal.
Previously it was thought that once symptoms disappear, one could assume they were recovered from the concussion. More recent studies have shown though that even if the athlete is no longer experiencing symptoms such as headaches or dizziness, the brain may not be fully recovered in terms of memory, reaction time, or processing for days or weeks after symptoms stop.
The baseline ImPACT test can be taken by children 11 years old or older and is a computer-based test composed of several sections that evaluate how well the brain is functioning when you are healthy. It does not measure intelligence or IQ but does measure things like reaction time, matching symbols or colors, non-verbal problem solving, and attention span. It must be taken in a controlled environment administered by a properly trained test administrator and results are available immediately for the test administrator to check for validity. The test results are good for two years, however, during adolescence we recommend retaking the test every year since the brain undergoes significant developmental changes during this time.
It’s important to know that if someone purposely tries to perform poorly, the ImPACT test has measures built within which will show if someone is not trying their best. This way the test can ensure that it can be an important tool for the doctor to manage recovery during a concussion. At The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention, we offer baseline ImPACT tests year-round for $25 and include a hard copy of the results. You can call 781-216-3715 with any questions or to schedule an appointment today. Check out our Fall Promotion for concussion ImPACT testing and training sessions.