Concussion care not just for the pros
Traumatic brain injuries account for more than 2 million emergency room visits in the United States each year, a significant percentage of which are concussions.
Representing a significant step forward in the treatment of such injuries, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently cleared marketing of a computerized concussion assessment aid that helps physicians evaluate and manage concussions. It’s called ImPACT, which stands for Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Test, and it reduces physicians’ reliance on self-reported symptoms to understand how a concussion is affecting a patient.
After analyzing more than 250 peer-reviewed articles, the FDA concluded there is there is valid scientific evidence “to support the safety and effectiveness of ImPACT.”
Marc P. Hilgers, MD, PhD, sports medicine specialist and concussion expert at Advocate Dreyer in Aurora, Ill., has been using the test in his practice since 2006.
“I use this baseline screening tool with athletes before the start of their sports season,” says Dr. Hilgers. “The test is given on a desktop computer, and the patient logs onto a website to begin the 25 minute test. It measures multiple aspects of cognitive functioning, including attention span, working memory, sustained and selective attention time, non-verbal problem solving, and reaction time.”
“If an athlete is suspected of having a concussion, we give them a follow up test to determine if the results have changed from the baseline,” says Dr. Hilgers. “This helps in the management and diagnosis of the concussion. In fact, ImPACT may be administered multiple times after the individual has been diagnosed with a concussion—the scores can be used to help measure rehabilitation and to consider whether to return an injured individual back to activity.”
Dr. Hilgers explains that no concussion is the same. “Our sports medicine team works with each person to develop an individualized plan on how to manage their recovery,” he says. “Those who have experienced a concussion and return to activity too soon are more susceptible to sustain an additional injury. It is very important to be fully cleared by a physician before resuming physical activity after a concussion.”
The test is important because athletes often hide concussive symptoms such as headache, dizziness and difficulties in thinking, Dr. Hilgers says. “I’ve seen athletes at all levels of sport hide their symptoms so they can continue to play. They may be reluctant to admit or address the possibility of a concussion, either because the effects are so subtle or because they may want to return to their normal activities as soon as possible.”
To schedule a baseline concussion test with an Advocate Dreyer physician, call 630.264.8720. And for more information, visit advocatedreyer.com/concussion.
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.