Concussion has been a hot button topic for the last several years. From NFL lawsuits to Hollywood blockbuster movies, concussion is everywhere. The trouble is, concussions present in very different ways. Some presentations are obvious with loss of consciousness, amnesia and disorientation being clear red flags for removal from play. Often times though, a headache is the only symptom at the time of injury, which is difficult to distinguish during competition. This is when a baseline test becomes helpful.
Baseline tests are performed prior to the season beginning when an athlete is not experiencing any symptoms of concussion. This provides a standard for comparison if/when there becomes a question of a concussion later in the season. These tests, though containing some subjective symptom scores, provide objective data to allow the clinician to make the best determination possible.
At this time there is no definitive test to determine with 100% certainty if an athlete has developed a concussion. Many tests exist as tools to assist in making a clinical determination regarding a concussion diagnosis. ImPACT, SCAT5, VOMS and King-Devick are common tests that may be performed in a baseline setting and reliably compared to post injury tests to make the best clinical decision when diagnosing a concussion.
Advanced Orthopaedic Specialists
At AOS, we utilize SCAT5 and ImPACT testing to help diagnose, monitor and determine return to play criteria. If your school offers a baseline of these tests, they can be helpful to compare to the results obtained in our office. If a baseline is not offered, we would be happy to set up an appointment for baseline testing. Hopefully these baselines will not be needed in the future but if they are, the baseline tests prove to be invaluable in the speedy and safe return to play.
Written by: Sean Huddleston, ATC