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Concussion baseline testing now available for younger children

Mar. 16, 2017, 8:47 AM

The Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center is now offering neurocognitive testing that helps physicians better manage treatment of concussions in younger children.

The baseline and post-concussion testing was previously available to athletes 12 and older.
A new concussion management device recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) makes that possible in children as young as five.

“We now have the ability to do neuro-psych testing for young athletes between the ages of 5 and 11,” said Andrew Gregory, M.D., associate professor of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation.

“This will assist us using a similar standard for determining return to play for this younger group of athletes.”

The cognitive assessment tool entails doing a baseline test so the results can be compared with follow-up results after a concussion diagnosis.

The device, ImPACT Pediatric, which was approved by the FDA in August 2016, obtains a snapshot of a child’s cognitive processes. The testing takes about 20 minutes as children answer questions on an iPad-based system that assesses sequential memory, word memory, visual memory and speed of information processing.

When baseline testing is performed, this provides physicians with an individualized record of the child’s brain functioning.

The iPad-based test replaces a pencil and paper questionnaire, which is not as child friendly, said Tim Lee, MHA, ATC, coordinator at the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center. ImPACT Pediatric is more like a game, he said, noting that most children are comfortable interacting with an iPad.

“The younger kids are so hard to evaluate,” Lee said. “They can’t really communicate how they feel necessarily.”

The baseline testing is provided for a $50 flat fee.

Sessions can be scheduled on Monday and Wednesday afternoons at Vanderbilt University Medical Center by calling 615-875-8722 or on Thursday afternoons at Vanderbilt Bone & Joint in Franklin by calling 615-790-3290.

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