According to the Center for Disease Control, an estimated 283,000 children are seen in emergency departments each year for sports or recreation-related traumatic brain injuries. Approximately 45% of these occur during football, soccer, basketball and playground activities.

  Starting this fall, school districts are being asked to have stricter guidelines and policies for brain injuries such as concussions. There are guidelines for returning to the classroom and also to the playing field. Returning too soon increases the risk for sustaining second-impact syndrome, which is a second concussion before the symptoms of the first have subsided. This can cause rapid swelling of the brain which can be life threatening.

  Athletes who have had one concussion are 1.5 times more likely to have a second; those who have sustained two concussions have nearly three times greater risk, according to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.

  Iowa Specialty Hospitals and Clinics will partner with area schools to implement a baseline for students prior to their athletic season through ImPACT testing. Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing tests memory, attention span, and visual and verbal problem solving. It is a tool to support trained healthcare providers in making educated decisions about returning to activities following a concussion.

  ISH has three credentialed ImPACT consultants: Drs. Jon Ahrendsen, Caleb Aswegen and Renee Diamond. When a concussion has been sustained, providers can compare the initial baseline test to a post-injury test to determine the athlete’s true cognitive function. Neurocognitive testing is the “cornerstone” of modern concussion management. It provides objective data to evaluate a patient’s post-injury condition and aids in tracking recovery for safe return to activity.

  “ImPACT testing is a great resource for our medical team to have when determining how well a student athlete is healing after being diagnosed with a concussion,” said Alison Angstrom, orthopedic program director at ISH. “Athletes want to be on the playing field and will tell us what they think we need to hear in order to participate in activities sooner, no matter what their true symptoms may be. This tool gives objective criteria to assess the brain before injuries by obtaining a baseline test. After an injury occurs, it ensures the athlete is getting back to that baseline before returning to play.”

  ImPACT testing is not a replacement for a CAT scan, MRI, or other medical technology, but is a tool that provides objective data. The goal is to keep student athletes safe, and help them return to the classroom and playing field in a healthy way.

  For questions about ImPACT testing, contact Angstrom at 515-602-9806.