At Providence, we use concussion assessments like ImPACT in order to efficiently diagnose and treat mild traumatic brain injuries. Our doctors are able to determine the severity of brain trauma for those who suffer from concussions, giving them the ability to make decisions about their health and well-being with reliable certainty.
ImPACT stands for Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing.
The test consists of a baseline assessment given to an athlete at the start of their season and then again when a concussion is suspected. Should an injury to the head occur to the athlete at any point, the subsequent ImPACT brain function tests are immediately administered and compared to the results of the baseline.
The test helps determine the risk of concussion and allows athletes and healthcare providers make accurate and effective clinical decisions, especially when it comes to athletes returning to play.
While traditional neurological imaging procedures such as CT and MRI are helpful in identifying serious brain injuries such as skull fractures and hematomas, they are ineffective at identifying the functional effects of the brain after a concussion.
This is where ImPACT can help. ImPACT measures subtle changes in cognitive functioning that cannot be accurately measured by relying on an athlete to report symptoms.
ImPACT can help answer difficult questions about an athlete’s readiness to return to play or return to school, protecting them from the potentially serious consequences of returning too soon.
The ImPACT test is a simple 25-minute computerized neurocognitive test. It’s administered at the start of the sports season or employment period and then again immediately after a head injury.
The test is easily accessible, available in many languages and taken with either a computer or tablet.
The baseline exam consists of questions that objectively measure neurocognitive brain function in key areas affected by brain trauma such as:
- Working memory
- Sustained and selective attention time
- Non-verbal problem solving
- Visual motor skills
- Verbal and visual memory
- Reaction time
When the test is complete, ImPACT produces a comprehensive report with the results of your test. This pre-season baseline test report is stored in ImPACT’s secure server and available to doctors if a concussion is suspected.
Should an injury to the head occur, a post-injury test is immediately administered to see if the results have changed from the baseline. This comparison helps to identify and manage the severity of the concussion.
The follow-up test includes questions similar to the baseline, as well as questions regarding concussion symptoms and the injury itself. The quick test allows the patient to create an immediate injury report to accurately capture the details of the head injury.
If you suspect that the athlete has a concussion, you should take the following steps:
- Remove the athlete from play
- Parents, coaches and school nurse should all be informed about the possible concussion
- Keep the athlete out of play until a healthcare professional, experienced in evaluating for concussion, provides written clearance that the athlete may return to play
More often than not, symptoms of concussions are difficult to determine. Concussion symptoms can include: consistent pressure headaches, fatigue, poor balance, memory loss, confusion, eyesight problems and nausea. The goal of ImPACT is to detect any sign of possible concussion and manage symptoms before they worsen.
If you have any of the following symptoms, immediately seek care at the emergency department: headaches that worsen, weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination, repeated vomiting or nausea, slurred speech, one pupil larger than the other, convulsions or seizures, increasing confusion or agitation, unusual behavior change, cannot recognize people or places, neck pain, or loss of consciousness (blackout).