ImPACT program to help in concussion fight

Monday, August 6, 2012

The diagnosis and treatment of concussions for area athletes continues to be one of the highest priorities for Cox Heath Systems.

To further aid in the treatment of patients who have suffered concussions, Cox has added the Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing program or ImPACT for short

"ImPACT is a computerized neurocognitive assessment tools." said Greg Gilmore, Cox's athletic training coordinator. "It helps us determine an athlete's ability to return to play after suffering a concussion. There are obvious signs when an individual suffers a concussion such as glossy eyes, headaches and dizziness. These symptoms are easy to spot. ImPACT allows us to measure items we can't see with our eyes like reaction times, verbal and visual memory and assists clinicians and athletic trainers in making return-to-play decisions."

Cox currently offers the ImPACT program to Monett, Pierce City, Mt. Vernon and Aurora High Schools. Athletes that participate are brought in their freshman and junior season for baseline testing. If an athlete suffers a concussion the baseline is used as a standard to which the injured athlete is measured.

"Any athlete in a high risk sport head injury (football, soccer softball, etc,) should have a baseline test," said Gilmore. "ImPACT is a vital tool that will help in the return of healthy players."

According to Gilmore, studies have shown that an athlete is 66 percent more likely to suffer another concussion after the initial injury.

Last year, in order to protect youth in Missouri from sports-related concussions the Missouri House of Representatives passed House Bill 300 -- the Interscholastic Youth Sports Brain Injury Prevention Act.

The key elements of this law include:

* Coaches, parents and athletes receive education and information annually regarding a concussion. A concussion information form will be signed each year.

* Athletes who appear to have suffered a concussion is immediately removed from play or practice. They are not allowed to return for a minimum of 24 hours.

* Athletes must be cleared by a licensed health care provider trained in the evaluation and management of concussions before returning to play or practice.

Cox's policy is more stringent.

* Athletes who appear to have suffered a concussion is immediately removed from play or practice.

* Athletes must be cleared to play by a physician.

* Athletes must be concussion symptom free for seven days.

"We have several ways in which we try to prevent concussions," said Gilmore. "Our athletic trainers work with coaches to develop techniques that limit the heads exposure to contact. We also work to strengthen athletes so that they can withstand the rigors of the sports."

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