It's that time of year for Marquette Senior High School student athletes--concussion screenings. It's through a computer program called ImPACT from Marquette General Sports Medicine, and every athlete takes it every two years or their first year competing in a sport. All athletes are in danger of getting injured during games and practices, even in non-contact sports like cross country. The screening helps determine how well your brain functions when healthy, and the results will be used in the event of a concussion.
The test takes about 30 to 45 minutes. After answering some questions about personal medical history and their current physical state, the students move on to questions that test things like memory and reaction time. If a student receives a concussion, they undergo therapy and treatments depending on the severity of the injury, but they all take the test again to determine if they're completely healed. A concussed student will have different responses.
"When we do the re-ImPACT, then we'll have a comparison where we can go back to the baseline and compare, and if everything matches or is close to a match to the baseline, then it's pretty much a go for the athlete to return to the sport," said Bill Elmblad, certified athletic trainer with Marquette General Sports Medicine.
"This takes all of the guesswork out of it. A medical professional has to clear you before you can come back, so I need in my hand a note from the doctor that says they have been cleared. This is the tool that makes it 100 percent they're ready to go back," said Jamie Tuma, athletic coordinator at MSHS.
A concussion is a serious injury and can even be life threatening if left untreated. Even in the event of a minor injury, coaches don't mess around.
"If our coaches have an athlete at a practice or a game that receive even the chance of a concussion, they need to be checked," Tuma said.
Possible signs of a concussion that coaches and parents should watch out for include headaches, vomiting, nausea, sluggish response time, mood changes, irritability, and even sensitivity to light. When it comes to concussions, play it safe and get it checked out.