Our knowledge about concussions and concussion testing has increased in recent years as daily headlines make us more aware of the fragile nature of the brain. Football players, in particular, have been in the news for voluntarily shortening their careers out of concern for their long-term brain health.
A concussion is actually a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), caused by a direct or an indirect blow to the head, which disturbs the brain and temporarily disrupts neurological functions.
While many of us associate danger from concussions with violent contact sports like football and hockey, our understanding is slowly changing to reflect the fact that concussions are also an issue in lighter contact sports such as soccer, volleyball, basketball and baseball.
We also have a better understanding of the effect of the cumulative sub-concussive impacts that will occur even in low impact amateur athletic sports. No sport is free from the risk of concussion. This increased understanding has promoted a greater awareness of the need for baseline concussion testing for everyone to protect and safeguard brain health.
Most concussions do not result in unconsciousness, which makes them difficult to diagnose effectively, particularly when the effects of long-term sub-concussive blows are included. Baseline concussion testing for athletes can help to establish what responses for a healthy brain should look like.
The only way to measure changes in brain function after a concussion is to know what they were before the concussion, and this is the purpose of baseline concussion testing. If a concussion is suspected, the same test is administered and examined for changes in brain response.
- Visual problems
- Noise/Light sensitivity
- Difficulty falling asleep
- More emotional
- Attention Problems
- Memory Dysfunction
- Cognitive Slowing
Red Flags That Warrant Immediate Medical Attention
- Progressively worsening headache or 10/10 head pain
- Unusual/excessive confusion/disorientation
- Grossly unusual behaviour
- Progressive neurological decline or focal neurological deficit
- Significant diplopia or cranial nerve deficit
- Slurred speech
- Excessive drowsiness or lethargy
- Significant unsteadiness/coordination issues
- Repeated vomiting (multiple episodes >2)
- Difficulty recognizing people or places, cognitive decline
Children Are Special
Children’s brains are particularly susceptible to the effects of concussion, with the US National Athletic Trainer’s Association reporting that concussions from sports are responsible for more than half of US emergency room visits for children aged 8 to 13.
The Apex Centre recommends concussion testing for children aged 10 and older every two years, with the first test acting as a baseline that provides a set of results that can be compared to post injury results. The test takes approximately 25-30 minutes to complete and should be interpreted by qualified practitioners. While any child would benefit from testing, it is especially useful for children involved in athletics who may have a higher risk of head traumas and collisions causing traumatic brain injury.
ImPACT Concussion Testing
Apex Centre staff are qualified to administer ImPact concussion testing. ImPact is the most widely used and scientifically validated computerized concussion evaluation system.
- Epidemiology Of Concussion In Sport
- Summary and Agreement Statement of the 2nd International Conference on Concussion in Sport
How Apex Can Help
If you participate in a sport or have a child that does, you should have a baseline concussion test. If you’ve already had a concussion and have never had a baseline test it’s still worthwhile doing as your results can be compared to average norms. The test costs $80, takes about half an hour, and is included with all new Apex Centre memberships.