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Kennett High monitoring concussions with the help of computer software

 Kennett High monitoring concussions with the help of computer software

CONWAY — what do the Kennett High Eagles have in common with the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins, the new England Patriots and the Boston Red Sox? They’re all using the ImPACT test computer program to monitor concussions. all of the fall sports teams at Kennett took the test now during preseason training. The Eagles are following a lead of state-line neighbor Fryeburg Academy, which started ImPACT testing two years ago.”The ImPACT test is a vital component of our concussion management test battery,” said mark Boland, of the Institute for Rural Health and Wellness. “It provides objective data which improves our medical team’s decision-making ability regarding return to play while enhancing safety for our student/athletes.”ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is the first, most-widely used, and most scientifically validated computerized concussion evaluation system,” according to its website impacttest.com “ImPACT provides computerized neurocognitive assessment tools and services that are used by medical doctors, psychologists, athletic trainers and other licensed health-care professionals to assist them in determining an athlete’s ability to return to play after suffering a concussion.”The Conway School District is among 23 high school/club teams in the Granite State currently using the ImPACT software.  It’s also being used by the University of new Hampshire, Dartmouth College and Plymouth State University along with 23 National Football League teams including the new England Patriots; every National Hockey League and Major League Baseball team; and eight current National Basketball Association teams (the Boston Celtics are not among those).”There are only a handful of schools in Division II (which Kennett participates in),” said Kerry Brady, athletic director at Kennett High, “and there aren’t that many schools this far north doing it. I think it’s a pretty important thing, it’s something we should do to protect the athletes. We’re also going to be doing the testing at the middle school this fall.”Kennett’s new policy states: “Kennett High/Middle School is introducing impact testing for all athletes for the 2011-12 school year. Each student needs to complete a computer base test before starting a sport at Kennett.” last week, members of the Kennett High football team took the test, and Monday the boys’ and girls’ soccer teams, boys and girls’ cross-country running teams and the golf and volleyball teams all took the 20-25 minute long computerized test.”It’s the first time we’re doing,” Mike Holderman, head football coach, said. “I think it’s going to become mandatory sooner or later. I’m glad we’re ahead of the curve.”We had a couple of players with concussions last year,” he added. “We all want to avoid that first concussion, but at least now we have a baseline for each athlete. you don’t want to rush an athlete back because the second (concussion) can happen quickly. Now, you’re going to have to meet the baseline and then can return three, four or five days later.”For example, football players take a baseline test before the season to record normal health. if they suffer a concussion, before they’re allowed back on the field, they retake the same test. if the results are different from the baseline test, it could mean the concussion has not healed.”After buying an ice machine, ImPACT should be the next thing you buy for an athletic training room,” Marc Wysocki, of the Berkshire School in Massachusetts, said. “It is by far the best piece of equipment to help to ensure the athletes are kept safe and return to play.”Developed in the early 1990s by Drs. mark Lovell and Joseph Maroon, ImPACT is a 20-minute test that has become a standard tool used in comprehensive clinical management of concussions for athletes of all ages.”Given the inherent difficulties in concussion management, it is important to manage concussions on an individualized basis and to implement baseline testing and/or post-injury neurocognitive testing,” impacttest.com states. “This type of concussion assessment can help to objectively evaluate the concussed athlete’s post-injury condition and track recovery for safe return to play, thus preventing the cumulative effects of concussion. in fact, neurocognitive testing has recently been called the “cornerstone” of proper concussion management by an international panel of sports medicine experts.”The ImPACT tearing is being administered by certified athletic trainer Andy Trowbridge, of Mountain Center Physical Therapy.”This is one more tool in the tool box,” Trowbridge said Tuesday by phone. “Obviously, we never want to see anyone get injured, a concussion can be dangerous, it’s a head injury. It’s really nice to see us on the forward curve with this testing. Nationwide there are 1,500 schools who use this, and for us to be in that growing number is great. by doing this at the middle school, too, we really are ahead of the curve there. We’ll be one of the few middle schools in new Hampshire testing all of its athletes.”Features and benefits of the test include: measures player symptoms; measures verbal and visual memory, processing speed and reaction time; reaction time measured to 1/100th of second; assists clinicians and athletic trainers in making difficult return-to-play decisions; provides reliable baseline test information; produces comprehensive report of test results; results can be e-mailed or faxed for fast consultation by a neuropsychologist; automatically stores data from repeat testing; testing is administered online for individuals or groups; and is compatible with PC and MAC.”The test is designed to be mildly provocative,” Trowbridge said. “If you are concussed, your faculties are a little slow, things will pop up (on the ImPACT test) if there are still issues.”Trowbridge explained he will continue to treat athletes as he has in the past when possible concussions occur.”My initial feeling will still be a catalyst for treatment,” he said. “Once they see their physician and their symptoms decrease then we will look at retesting the individual. if the test is successful (matching the prior baseline) then we can look at a return to the playing process.”Once an individual has an unsatisfactory test, they can’t immediately retake it,” Trowbridge added. “They have to wait another week before retaking it. The big thing about ImPACT is it should help prevent multiple concussions. We’re finding more and more there isn’t necessarily an increase in concussions but our recognition of them is vastly better than a few years ago.”The program measures multiple aspects of cognitive functioning in athletes, including: attention span; working memory; sustained and selective attention time; response variability; non-verbal problem solving; and reaction time.””Although each athlete can be tested only once in high school, we recommend testing two times — freshman and junior years (in high school the brain is still developing),” the website states. “In college, the athlete should be tested during his or her freshman year. at the professional level, each athlete should be tested once.””After this year,” Trowbridge said, “it will be just incoming freshmen and juniors who will take the test. We want to get a baseline every two years.”

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