What is a concussion?
It's a mild traumatic brain injury caused by direct or indirect impact to the head/body causing the brain to move rapidly within the skull. This sudden movement results in an altered mental state affecting the brain with or without loss of consciousness. Concussions are usually not life-threatening, but cause serious symptoms that require medical treatment. Symptoms may begin immediately or develop over a period of days, weeks, or months following the injury.
What is a baseline concussion test?
It is a test that assesses brain function in the uninjured state. This may include assessing memory, reaction time and balance. The more comprehensive, the better the information to diagnose and follow should a concussion occur.
Why all athletes and high risk professions should have a baseline concussion test.
The baseline testing allows healthcare professionals to make a comparison between pre/post injury and aides in determining when it is safe to return to play or work.
Types of Concussion Testing
Neurocognitive Testing is a way to measure brain function non-invasively. It's a quick evaluation of visual and verbal memory, reaction time, and visual motor speed. The ImPACT test is most commonly used.
Balance Testing is used to check postural stability and control following a concussion. It is usually assessed by standing on the floor on a pad, on both feet and one foot at a time. Balance is best checked while moving as well. Many computerized systems exist to test balance.
Gross Motor Testing is for athletes, its best to check reaction time in motion, instead of while sitting at a computer. Dynavision is a good gross motor reaction time testing system.
Visual Tracking/Vestibular Testing identifies visual and vestibular system deficits which aid in diagnosing a concussion. A physician can test this manually with several maneuvers that involve following an object or finger with your eye's, moving your head etc. Also, several computer programs and devices exist for this test.