Hays, KS – HaysMed offers pre-season concussion exams for area athletes as part of their sports medicine program. The exams are given at the schools covered by the HaysMed Athletic Trainers and include Ellis, Lacrosse, Hays High, Thomas Moore Prep-Marian Junior/Senior High School and Victoria.
Baseline concussion testing is a pre-season exam that assesses an athlete’s balance and brain function. This includes learning and memory skills, the ability to pay attention or concentrate, how quickly he or she thinks and solves problems, as well as for the presence of any concussion symptoms.
Concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) that may result in a bad headache with altered levels of alertness, or even unconsciousness. A concussion temporarily interferes with the way your brain works. Concussion can affect memory, judgment, reflexes, speech, balance, coordination and even sleep patterns.
According to the Kansas State High School Activities Association Concussion Reporting Summary the year average number of reported concussions was 1,584 from 2018 – 2021.
“After a concussion occurs, it is important to measure how well your brain functions post-injury and compare that to the brain function prior to the injury.” Said Dr. Wally Walstrom, board-certified sports medicine physician at HaysMed. “A valid baseline concussion test is key in a comprehensive approach to concussion management.”
The baseline tests are typically taken in the pre-season. Baseline tests are assessments that measure reaction time, memory capacity, speed of mental processing, concentration, and balance. Results from the baseline tests can be used and compared to a similar exam conducted if an athlete has a suspected concussion. “The idea is that if we know how an individual athlete “normally” functions on such a test, after a concussion, the post-concussion scores can be one tool to help determine when they have sufficiently recovered from the concussion to safely return to play.” Noted Shawn Landers, Athletic Trainer at HaysMed.
HaysMed uses the C3 Logix concussion baseline testing program. It provides clinicians with a comprehensive concussion evaluation system. It includes a computerized neurocognitive exam. In addition, C3 Logix tracks a patient’s dynamic vision reflexes and ability to visually focus on moving objects. The tool features a battery of tests that effectively measure motor skills and balance through a unique iPad application.
When the iPad is strapped to a patient’s back, the app collects accelerometer and gyroscopic data to assess postural stability while the patient attempts various stances on both firm and soft surfaces.
“Each concussion is unique, so it is important to treat individuals on a case-by-case basis.” Said Dylan Moore, Athletic Trainer at HaysMed.
Comparing post-injury test scores of an individual to their own baseline test scores is considered best practice. Without a baseline test to use for comparison, an individual’s scores can only be compared to the general population. Also, because baseline testing occurs in the pre-season, the very act of getting tested will raise concussion awareness for athletes, parents, and coaches.
“Cognitive testing should not be the sole basis of management decisions.” Said Jensen Scheele, Athletic Trainer at HaysMed. “Rather, it is seen as an aid to the decision-making process in conjunction with a range of assessments and investigational results.” The final determination regarding concussion diagnosis and/or return to play is a medical decision based on clinical judgment and final clearance will remain with the athlete’s physician.
When it comes to TBIs, you cannot always prevent the accidental blow to the head, a trip and fall, or the surprise hit. This means that concussions can and will happen in sports. All injuries, concussions included, are part of the inherent risks of playing sports. With that said, there is still a lot that can be done to minimize the frequency of concussions, as well as reduce the long-term negative outcomes. Namely, education, awareness, and ensuring that medical coverage exists whenever sports are being played are the best tools for concussion prevention.
The goal is to minimize the risk of concussion. HaysMed provides concussion awareness and prevention education including:
- the signs and symptoms of concussion
- second impact syndrome
- free baseline screenings
- return-to-play guidelines
- post-concussion treatment options
For concussion questions, to schedule an appointment, and or information on individual or group education and baseline testing call 785-623-5691.