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The importance of Baseline and Concussion (imPACT) Testing

Friday, August 19, 2016

As children get older, sports shift into more competitive mode. And when sports get competitive, injuries are more likely. Children can suffer a concussion in any sport - not just high impact sports such as football or lacrosse. Concussions can be very serious and advanced assessments - done before the season even starts - help doctors better treat and manage concussion recovery.

teen athletes from a variety of sports

ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is used by thousands of high schools, colleges and professional teams to help medical providers better manage concussions. Northpoint Pediatrics offers Baseline imPACT at both our Indianapolis and Noblesville offices.

A concussion is a type of a traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. Concussions don't just happen with a large, violent blow to the head - a fall or motion that causes the head to move quickly back and forth can cause a concussion. All potential concussions should be treated seriously.

Concussions are very difficult to diagnose and sometimes - particularly with young children and teens - the athlete denies the symptoms because they want to return to normal activities as quickly as possible. Advanced assessments like imPACT are critical tools for doctors because they help them more accurately assess the effect of a bump, blow or jolt to the head.

Learn more about concussion symptoms in our article on Head Concussions

What is Concussion (imPACT) Testing?

Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) is a computer-based test that objectively measures the function of the brain. Measuring attention, memory, processing speed and reaction time helps our certified imPACT clinicians determine when it’s safe to play.

imPACT is a two-part test that gives an impartial view of the brain's function:
  1. Baseline Test – Administered before the start of a sport season, school year, or other activity. Baseline scores are collected and stored on our HIPAA compliant server. ImPACT recommends re-administering the baseline test every two years.
  2. Post-Injury Test – Administered when a concussion is suspected. Test results are compared to baseline scores and/or normative data scores as part of our assessment of the injury. Multiple post-injury tests may be given during the course of treatment and rehabilitation.

happy group of young adults

Who should have imPACT testing and when?

All athletes 12 years old and older should take a diagnostic imPACT test during the preseason. With information about “baseline” brain function on record, your treating physician will have measurements to use for comparison and analysis should you suffer a concussion during the season.

IMPORTANT; Whether an athlete has taken a pre-season baseline test or not, medical attention for a concussion is ALWAYS needed. And the imPACT post-injury test may still be administered to help the doctor determine the best course of treatment.

Northpoint offers baseline concussion testing for children 12 years and up that do not have access to testing through their local school district.  The test fee is $20 and is not billable to insurance.

To schedule a Baseline imPACT test call us at 317-621-9000.

Learn more about concussion management:

Baby girl with pony tail in white