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Sports Medicine » Concussion Testing

Concussion Testing

Immediately prior to each sports season, Mars Area School District conducts ImPACT Baseline Concussion Testing for any student-athlete in Grades 7, 9 or 11 or any athlete who has not previously taken a baseline test through Mars Area School District. 
ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is widely used and the most scientifically validated computerized concussion evaluation system; and, is a tool used to determine if a concussion is present as well as if an athlete is ready to safely return from an injury.
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Frequently Asked Questions
The following are Frequently Asked Questions regarding Mars Area School District's ImPACT Baseline Concussion Testing program:
1. Who takes the ImPACT baseline test?
ALL Mars athletes (grades 7-12) participating in any interscholastic, school-sponsored sport will be required to take a baseline test prior to the start of their sport season. The test will be administered by the Mars certified athletic trainers for no charge.
2. How long does the ImPACT test take?
The ImPACT test takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. The test begins with a demographics section that asks general information as well as a brief medical history. It is then followed by a current signs/symptoms section, in which the athlete “rates” their current symptoms. The actual testing portion takes about 20 minutes.
3. What should I do once my athlete has sustained a concussion?
If the athlete receives a concussion, the athletic trainer will help you devise a treatment plan for your son/daughter. Most of the time, the athlete will take a post-injury ImPACT test, followed by an appointment with their medical provider (pediatrician, primary care provider, etc) and/or with a neuropsychologist with a specialization in concussion care. The athletic trainer will work with the athlete’s treatment plan until they have reached a return-to-play status. It is important to remember that every brain is affected by a concussion in a different way so the treatment plan will be individualized for that athlete’s specific needs and everyone’s injury timeline will be different.
4. What do I need to have for my athlete to be cleared to return-to-play?
Once an ImPACT post-injury test has been administered and the athlete has been determined to have a concussion, that athlete ultimately needs to be cleared for return-to-play by a physician (MD or DO). Return-to-play notes from any other health care provider will not be accepted. This is in accordance with Pennsylvania State Law. The ImPACT testing protocol provides the necessary objective data to aid in making the return to play in a timely and efficient manner.
5. What if my athlete takes this test numerous times—will he/she repeat the same test?
The test battery consists of a near infinite number of alternate forms. This feature was built in to the program to minimize the "practice effects" that have limited the usefulness of more traditional neurocognitive tests.
6. What if my athlete is color blind?
Color blindness is accounted within the software of the test. If the athlete is color blind, it will only affect one section of the test, the color match test. However, at the beginning of this portion of the test, it asks the athlete to identify certain colors. If the athlete cannot do this, it will be accounted for and noted in the results section and should not affect their overall scores. © Mars Area School District Sports Medicine. 2011.
7. What if my athlete has a learning disability?
They can still take the test and the results will be specific to them. There is a specific section in the demographics/medical history portion of the test that asks to note learning disabilities. Athletes are encouraged to be honest in this portion of the test so that scores can be accounted for. All ImPACT test results/information are confidential.
8. What activities should my athlete avoid when he/she has a concussion?
If the athlete has been diagnosed with a concussion by a medical professional, he/she should NOT:
(A) Participate in ANY physical activity, including their sport, physical education, exercising/weight lifting, etc, until they have been cleared to by a health care professional.
(B) Drive while symptoms are present. Reaction time can be affected by a concussion, an attribute that comes in handy when operating a vehicle.
(C) Spend long stretches of time texting or playing video/computer games. These activities require the brain to expend a lot of energy, something that it lacks when it is concussed. It is also recommended that if an athlete is on a phone/computer/video game, they take breaks to rest their brain.