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Maryland students get new concussion protocol

Good news for parents and student-athletes throughout the state of Maryland: A mandatory testing program shows that school systems throughout the region are prioritizing concussion injuries. The new assessment, known as Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing, or ImPACT, is adapted from NFL protocol and has spread to many other major sports leagues. ImPACT is now in use throughout Maryland, promoting injury prevention among young student-athletes, even in high school and below.

Even though this model for concussion testing has existed for more than two decades, it is enjoying increased prominence thanks to injury awareness promoted by the NFL's recent lawsuits. Nearby Pittsburgh Steelers medical teams were among the first to consult with medical professionals in the area, and many of the concussion testing protocols were developed in the region. Now, at least one company is offering eight different locations for providing quick ImPACT testing throughout the state, with others joining the ranks every day.

Some districts are even requiring kids to have an ImPACT test before they are permitted to participate in sports. The test evaluates memory skills, reaction time and other cognitive processes.

The test is unique in that it provides initial data for comparison if the athlete suffers a head injury later. That is, test data is on file that can describe a child's normal cognitive function; if the athlete has suffered a concussion, his or her reaction times and other skills are likely to be lower. This helps diagnose concussions with more accuracy than other types of tests. Coaches and physicians alike can use the information to determine whether the child should be permitted to get back out on the field.

Advances in medical science such as ImPACT may prevent children from suffering serious child injury during sporting events. Still, doctors, coaches and sports organizations are responsible for taking a conservative approach to ensure that these children do not suffer permanent injury while participating in recreational activities.


Source: 
somd.com, "Thousands of Md. high school student-athletes get concussion test" Zack Ward, Nov. 23, 2013

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