Baseline Concussion Testing

Having grown up playing sports, and being a father to 3 boys who are involved in multiple sports, I am very interested in the benefits of sports. And as my eldest son plays ice hockey, I have also become increasingly aware of some of the dangers, including the threat of concussions. Some of my son’s teammates have missed significant playing time due to concussions, and one had to miss an entire season due to the two concussions he had the year before. In the past, concussions have been taken lightly by coaches, parents, and players, and were considered just a part of games like hockey or football. But a concussion is a brain injury, and all brain injuries should be taken seriously. And in addition, concussions can happen in other sports like baseball, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, and more.

One thing some of the parents I know have discussed, and my son’s travel hockey club started to recommend, is baseline concussion testing. The idea is to have your child take a cognitive test, measuring his or her brain function before sustaining this kind of injury. This provides a baseline of your child’s abilities. Then, should your child sustain a concussion or have concussion symptoms, the doctor can re-administer the test. These tests are then used to determine when your child is cleared to play. His or her performance would need to be at least as good as the baseline. Without a baseline test, it can be difficult to determine when it healthy to resume sports or not.

The most known baseline test is called the Impact test. The testing is widely available, and you can read about the test and find doctors who administer the test here. Most insurances should cover the test, but it is also very affordable if you plan to pay out-of-pocket. To protect your child and to have some very important data about his or her functioning post-head injury, I highly recommend scheduling a test as soon as possible.

Published by Dr. Jesse Matthews

I'm a practicing psychologist and director of Matthews Counseling & Coaching, a private practice in Chester Springs, PA. I work with clients 18 and older, and my specialties include: depression; addiction/substance abuse; relationships; anxiety; ADHD and behavioral issues; and Autism/Asperger's. Our group works with individuals from tween through older adult, helping them with a variety of life issues. Check out the practice website for information on other clinicians and their services: .

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