Football, volleyball, cheerleading, soccer, softball and cross country all bring an increased risk of concussions in student athletes. To help successfully manage concussions, Cass Regional Medical Center offers the ImPACT™ (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) program to all Cass County high schools. ImPACT is the first and most widely-used, scientifically-validated computerized concussion evaluation system. The program was developed in the 1990s by Drs. Mark Lovell and Joseph Maroon, and consists of a 20 minute test that has become a standard tool used in clinical management of concussions in athletes of all ages.
Cass Regional’s role in the program includes funding for the cost of the ImPACT software and support from a team of Cass Regional medical professionals for participating schools.
The Cass Regional Concussion Management Team includes Samuel Brewster, MD; physical therapist John Hoffman, PT; and Impact Education Coordinator and Speech Language Pathologist Nora Dahman, MS, CCC-SLP. Dr. Damon Travis of Harrisonville Family Medicine, Inc., also serves on the team.
Implementation of the ImPACT program at the school level begins with education on concussions for athletes, parents, coaches, trainers and teachers. Prior to the start of the athletic season, student athletes take a supervised, computerized test that will serve as the baseline neurocognitive assessment for each athlete. The test, which is designed as a video game, measures attention span, working memory, sustained and selective attention time, response variability, non-verbal problem solving and reaction time.
Following a suspected concussion during play, the student athlete is immediately removed from the activity. He or she is then referred by the athletic trainer or coach to a physician with training in evaluating concussions. At that time, the physician may order a brain imaging test if she or he feels more information is necessary. The physician may also consult with other medical professionals, including a concussion specialist and/or rehabilitation specialist, as required.
Within 48 hours of the injury, the athlete will retake the computerized test, which will be compared to the baseline and evaluated by the trained physician. The results of the re-test will guide the physician on the next treatment steps, which may include further rehabilitation and/or a referral to a neurologist or concussion specialist. The supervising physician will work with the athlete to manage symptoms while slowly introducing some physical and cognitive exertion. Once the ImPACT test is within the normal range of baseline and after the athlete has obtained written clearance by the supervising physician, he or she may return to play with light, non-contact activity that gradually progresses to full activity. The final post-injury ImPACT test score will then become that athlete’s new baseline.
In the last 2-year cycle: 1,793 Baseline Tests, with 212 Post-injury Tests were given in the participating Cass County schools.
For more information on the ImPACT program in Cass County high schools, contact Nora Dahman at Cass Regional at (816) 380-3474, extension 7733.