Concussion management presents one of the more complex problems for the athletic trainer in everyday practice. Concussions can be difficult to identify and manage properly unless an athletic trainer and athletic department have the necessary resources.
In 2004 the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) published comprehensive guidelines for the management of sports concussion injuries. This paper* contains 36 specific recommendations in the areas of:
- Defining and Recognizing Concussion
- Evaluating and Making Return-to-Play Decision
- Concussion Assessment Tools
- When to Refer to a Physician After Concussion
- When to Disqualify an Athlete
- Special Considerations for Young Athletes
- Home Care
- Equipment Issues
A team approach to the assessment of concussion should be taken and include a variety of medical a specialists...a neuropsychologist should be identified as part of the sports medicine team for assisting athletes.
Recommendations by the NATA panel include:
- “The Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) should play an active role in educating athletes, coaches and parents about the signs and symptoms associated with concussion, as well as potential risks of playing while still symptomatic.” (#4, p.281)
- “Baseline testing on concussion assessment measures is recommended to establish the individual athlete’s “normal” preinjury performance and to provide the most reliable benchmark against which to measure postinjury recovery.” (#12, p.281)
- “The use of objective concussion assessment tools will help ATC’s more accurately identify deficits caused by injury and postinjury recovery and protect players from the potential risks associated with prematurely returning to competition and sustaining a repeat concussion.” (#13, p.281)
- “A team approach to the assessment of concussion should be taken and include a variety of medical a specialists...a neuropsychologist should be identified as part of the sports medicine team for assisting athletes who require more extensive neuropsychological testing and for interpreting the results of neuropsychological tests.” (#20, p. 282)
- “Athletic trainers working with younger (pediatric) athletes should be aware that recovery may take longer than in older athletes.” (#26, p.282)
- “Because damage to the maturing brain of a young athlete can be catastrophic (ie, almost all reported cases of second-impact syndrome are in young athletes), athletes under age 18 years should be managed more conservatively, using stricter RTP guidelines than those used to manage concussions in more mature athletes.” (#28, p.282)
*Guskiewicz, K. et al. National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement: Management of Sports-Related Concussion, Journal of Athletic Training. 2004; 39(3):280-297.
For the Athletic Trainer and Team Physician, working with a neuropsychologist who specializes in sports concussion management offers several advantages:
“Dr. McGrath and the use of ImPACT© computerized testing have been invaluable resources for us at St. Mark’s School. He helps to provide the interpretation and understanding of ImPACT© results so that we may make informed decisions in the recovery and return-to-activity process. His advisement is crucial through this process and we are thankful for his level of professionalism and customized approach in caring for members of our community.”
Carrie Deisenroth, ATC Head Athletic Trainer
St. Mark’s School, Southborough, MA
- Knowledge of educating others about the effects of brain injury and the consequences of repeat concussions and more severe brain trauma.
- Expertise in interpreting neuropsychological tests of memory, speed, reaction time and impulse control that are central to understanding recovery from concussion.
- Experience in understanding and working with the wide variety of learning issues that students have, especially during recovery from concussion.
- The opportunity for more in-depth evaluation of student athletes who may be slower to recover.
For the Athletic Director, bringing concussion management services with ImPACT© to your athletic department has several advantages:
- You will know that your athletes are served by a comprehensive program that addresses the best-practice guidelines of the NATA.
- Parents of your athletes will know that you are addressing the serious issue of concussion risk.
- With ImPACT© in use in your department, you will know that your student athletes are receiving the same level of concussion management care given to professional athletes.
- Your Athletic Trainer and Team Physician will have expert consultation to assist them in making crucial return-to-play decisions.
- You will reduce the risk of preventable disability and catastrophic injury for your student athletes.
What can Sports Concussion New England and ImPACT© do for you?
“I have learned more about concussions & head injuries in working with Dr. McGrath for the past two years than I have in the 30 years in Athletic Training. The implementation of the ImPACT© program has been an enlightening experience for us in both athletic training and our academic community. Simply having access to the ImPACT© program alone is not enough. You have to have an experienced expert to interpret the results in order to make informed decisions on returning athletes to participation and to the classroom. Having to work without this tool or the expertise of Dr. McGrath would be like to having to come to work blindfolded.”
Ellen A. Malloy, M.Ed., ATC, LAT Head Athletic Trainer
Thayer Academy, Braintree, MA
- Provide comprehensive packages of concussion education, ImPACT© testing and return-to-play consultation
- Discounts on annual purchase of ImPACT© software
- Office evaluations for your injured student athletes to help determine readiness for sports and provide academic recommendations during recovery
- The confidence of knowing that your athletic department and athletes’ families are receiving expert decision-making using state-of-the-art technology
TO CONTACT US: