Athletes Participate in Precautionary Concussion Tests

New studies from the NFL show that four to five million concussions occur annually, and MCPS is joining the national objective to pay closer attention to the severity of concussions to properly treat them.

MCPS issued a new mandate that all high school athletes must take an ImPACT baseline concussion test before practicing or playing in a game. The online test measures the student’s memory of both written words and patterns among other things and then generates a score based on the answers. If a student athlete gets a concussion, he or she will retake the test three to seven days after the injury to compare the scores.

By comparing these scores, trainers can determine the severity of the concussion and create a rehabilitation schedule so athletes can safely integrate back into their regular practice routine. The Montgomery County “return to playa�� protocol requires a five-day transition back into practice starting with less strenuous activities on the first day and gradually returning to practice at the normal pace throughout the week.

“We probably should have implemented more concussion precautions and testing years ago,” Athletic Director Mike Hayes said.

While Fairfax County schools have been using the ImPACT Baseline test for years, Montgomery County along with Howard County and Anne Arundel Public Schools are starting to integrate the testing into their athletic programs this year. Since many teams in the NFL, MLB, NHL, WWE and 7,400 high schools, 1,000 colleges and 430 clinical centers use Baseline testing as a concussion management tool, MCPS trusts the ImPACT tests to be reliable and accurate.

“I am really glad that we have concussion testing this year because concussions can be an issue in soccer and we want to make sure our players are not returning to practice before it is safe [for them,]” senior soccer captain Samantha Bauer said.

However, RHS students have found one problem with the test; it may not be completely accurate due to its length and repetitive questions. The test first asks a long series of background questions on sleep and general mood, before proceeding to a long set of memory questions.

“The test was so long that I rushed through the some of the questions and selected random answers just to finish the test,” senior pom Hayley Egart said.

The severity of concussions among high school students has recently become a concern across the nation, now Montgomery County just needs to find the most effective way to prevent and treat concussions among athletes.