Baseline concussion tests available for area athletes

Cambridge Medical Clinic and Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming are offering a special concussion test to area athletes ages 12 through college.

Through Immediate Postconcussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing, or ImPACT, a computer is used to measure an athlete’s brain function to attain a baseline score prior to their participation in a sport. The test measures attention span, working memory, sustained and selective attention time, non-verbal problem solving, reaction time and other areas.

If a head injury occurs, the test is repeated and a comparison is made to the baseline test to accurately diagnose a concussion and degree of brain impairment. This helps doctors, coaches, parents and trainers discern whether a student athlete can safely return to play or not.

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury, resulting from a direct blow, bump or jolt to the head. The injury can result from a blow to another part of the body when the force travels to the head. A concussion can affect coordination, learning, memory, emotions and even be life threatening.

Most concussions heal without issue. However, like any other injury, a brain injury needs time to heal with physical and mental rest. If a second concussion occurs before a first one is fully healed, a condition called second impact syndrome may cause brain swelling and may be fatal.

About ImPACT testing

The Minnesota State High School League has taken an aggressive approach with concussion management, an issue of concern in college and professional sports, as well.

The issue is stated in MSHSL’s eligibility form that requires both parents and athletes to read  and sign. An ImPACT test is encouraged to be completed annually.

North Branch schools is offering ImPACT testing for high school athletes in football, soccer, volleyball, wrestling, hockey and basketball at no cost. Testing for fall sports has already been completed.

Athletes age 12 and older may receive the test through Fairview Sports and Orthopedic Care. Contact Fairview’s “Concussion  Hotline” at 952-460-4440 to schedule a baseline test or ask questions.

The cost of the baseline ImPACT exam is $5. A post injury exam is $20 or is built into the cost of the physician visit at Fairview Sports and Orthopedic Care in Wyoming.

The school district does stress that ImPACT testing is a tool that it uses and does not substitute for a thorough medical exam.

For more information, call North Branch Activities and Community Education Director Brett Carlson at 651-674-1512 or Dr. Ahrenholz at Fairview, 612-672-7100. Cambridge Medical Center can be reached at 763-688-6427.

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