Why should athletes get baseline testing?
Baseline testing helps to establish an athletes “normal” level on a number of physical and cognitive tests. Baseline values can vary between athletes. It is important to understand each athletes “normal” so that if a concussive episode occurs during the season, objective measures are already available when it comes to making those important return-to-play decisions.
With each concussive episode being specific to the individual, the proper management process for safe return-to-play is difficult to employ without that individuals normal values on these physical and cognitive tests. The data recorded in baseline testing protocols can be used to track an athlete’s recovery and give therapists an objective measure in order to determine if they are ready to return to sport safely.
What is involved with baseline testing?
ImPACT Neurocognitive Testing: Developed by clinical experts who pioneered the field, ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is the most-widely used and most scientifically validated computerized concussion evaluation system. ImPACT provides trained clinicians with neurocognitive assessment tools and services that have been medically accepted as state-of-the-art best practices — as part of determining safe return to play decisions.
This computerized test takes about 20-30 minutes to complete. The testing should be administered by an ImPACT trained professional. Baseline tests are suggested every 1-2 years. If a concussion is suspected, the baseline report will serve as a comparison to the repeat ImPACT test, which professionals can use to assess potential changes or damage caused by a concussion. The management of concussions should only be conducted by trained medial professionals.
The program measures multiple aspects of cognitive functioning in athletes, including attention span, working memory, sustained and selective attention time, response variability, non-verbal problem solving, and reaction time.
For more information, visit ImPACT Testing & Computerized Neurocognitive Assessment Tools.
What other testing is involved in a baseline test?
In addition to neurocognitive performance testing, a comprehensive baseline test includes other aspects of physical performance that may be affected with a concussion.
Part 1 involves a subjective assessment where the athlete is asked a variety of questions to determine their concussion risk factor.
Part 2 involves a neck examination performed by a physiotherapist to determine if any pre-existing neck limitations may be affected if a concussion was sustained.
Part 3 involves a comprehensive Vestibular-Ocular Motor Screening (VOMS). This is another component administered by a physiotherapist which tests the function/connection between the vestibular system (inner ear) and ocular function (vision). The video below demonstrates one component of the VOMS.
Part 4 involves a functional balance assessment. A comprehensive baseline test gives an accurate comparison of measures that can be retested if you should ever sustain a concussion, in order to map your level of recovery and guide return-to-play decisions. At EPA, we use a state of the art balance testing system called SWAY. The video below demonstrates how the technology works.
For more information, visit Sway Medical.
At Eramosa Physiotherapy Associates, we provide a variety of baseline testing options that cater to an individual athlete, team, or organization. Please contact your local EPA clinic for more information and pricing options.
Our Comprehensive Concussion Management:
Why should athletes get baseline testing? What is involved with baseline testing? Click on the image above for more information.
What should athletes do once they have sustained a concussion? What is involved in the assessment and treatment? Click on the image above for more information