July 12, 2012

Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center offering pre-concussion baseline tests to community athletes

The pre-concussion baseline testing for community recreational athletes includes a computerized assessment of factors including reaction time, memory and attention span.

The Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center is now offering pre-concussion baseline testing to all community recreational athletes, in advance of many high-impact seasonal sports resuming this fall.

Testing includes the computerized ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) test, a balance assessment and an individual neurologic history.

“This gives our physicians a snapshot of your baseline brain function,” said Andrew Gregory, M.D., associate professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation. “Then if you have a concussion, we can compare your current function to know when you are back at that baseline and it is safe to return to activity.

“It allows us to compare your brain function directly to you, not to an average of people across the country. Each concussion should be handled on an individual basis, and you want that level of personalization to know when your brain has healed,” Gregory said.

This was previously only offered to high school, college and professional athletes on teams covered by Vanderbilt Sports Medicine, but is now being made available to any adults and adolescents ages 12 and older.

“This is geared toward anyone in recreational sports, but especially contact sports like football, hockey, rugby and soccer, and it is important to have the test done before there is an injury,” Gregory said.

The ImPACT test is a 20-minute computerized test of factors including reaction time, memory and attention span.

It also gathers data on a patient’s physical characteristics, concussion history and neurological profile, including history of disorders that can affect recovery from concussion such as learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, dyslexia and autism.

One exercise asks participants to remember a word list and recall those words later. Another requires participants to press a certain key depending on the shape shown on screen.

Testing will be offered at three clinic locations: The Vanderbilt Orthopaedic Institute on Vanderbilt’s main campus, the Vanderbilt Bone and Joint Clinic in Franklin, and Vanderbilt Orthopaedics at Mt. Juliet.

Call the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center hotline at 875-VSCC to schedule an appointment. Out of pocket cost is $50 for the test.

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