Every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1.6 million to 3.8 million sports-related concussions occur in the U.S. Unfortunately, concussions can often go undiagnosed or incorrectly treated. Many people do not know that a concussion is a type of brain injury and thus impacts every patient differently. One tool that can help with the above is a concussion baseline test. The assessment is often completed on a computer and tests a variety of skills. This includes looking for any concussion-based symptoms, as well as testing memory, attention, reaction or processing time, ability to learn, and other executive brain functions. A commonly used baseline test is called ImPACT test or Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Test. The test is ideally given prior to participation in any sport including both games and practice. If a concussion is suspected during that season, the test is administered again. The results between the two exams are compared and can help identify a concussion diagnosis and determine the best course of treatment including any participation restrictions in both school and sport. If no baseline test is given, the results can be compared with national averages based on patient age, however it is more beneficial to compare results within the same person.
The test can then be administered throughout post-concussion treatment as a way to track patient progress. It is useful to help determine when a patient is appropriate for returning to any prior activities or sports. It can also be used to help determine the need for follow up with a specialist such as a neuropsychologist, optometrist, or physical therapist. Post concussive PT focuses on improving activity tolerance and any balance, endurance, oculo-motor, and vestibulo-ocular deficits. Patients will receive a personalized program addressing the above which can include cardio-vascular, balance and coordination, and eye exercises.
Luckily, concussion baseline tests are now more routinely given to both professional and high school athletes. For more information about concussion baseline testing or other concussion-based questions, contact a Strive Physical therapist.
Rebecca Furrer completed her undergraduate degree in biology at LaSalle University in 2010. She graduated in 2013 with her Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree from Thomas Jefferson University. While a graduate student, she completed an affiliation with Strive at the Marlton location and grew to love treating patients with orthopedic and sports injuries utilizing a hands-on clinical treatment approach. She is very happy to be continuing her career at the Strive location in Delran. Rebecca is currently an American Physical Therapy Association member. In the future, she plans on expanding her clinical skills by becoming certified in McKenzie method and in other manual therapeutic techniques including soft tissue mobilization with Graston and Active Release Techniques. She enjoys working with patients of all ages and focuses on a patient centered treatment approach to enhance patient care.