What is a Concussion Baseline Test?

Concern over concussions within young athletes has been growing at a significant rate. As a result, more and more interest has been paid to what causes concussions, detection methods, and prevention methods as well. The following information discusses one of the leading methods designed to effectively prevent concussions.

What is a Concussion Baseline Test?

A concussion baseline test is a pre-season exam conducted by a qualified healthcare professionals used to determine the athlete's brain balance and brain function. These functions include memory and learning skills, problem solving skills, and concentration. The concussion baseline test essentially is designed to detect whether the individual has any symptoms of a concussion. The results from a concussion baseline test can be used by a physician during the season to compare and contrast if a concussion is suspected.

When Does Concussion Baseline Testing Happen?

Baseline testing typically will happen during the pre-seasons before the first practice. The timing is important because it sets the standard for the patients’ normal brain function and activity. Some concussion baseline testing is only suggested for athletes who are older than 10 years of age.

What Happens If an Athlete has a Suspected Concussion?

If the athlete is suspected to have a concussion, the post-injury test results are compared to the baseline test results. When these two tests are compared, the health care professional will be able to identify the effects of the head trauma or injury. The physician will also be able to make a better informed decision about when the individual will be able to return to school or begin playing the sport again. During this time, the health care professional will also provide education to the parents and the child, such as:

- tips to help recovery
- danger signs to watch out for
- how to reduce the chances for a future concussion

What is Included in Concussion Baseline Testing?

Concussion baseline testing should include cognitive and balance assessments along with checks for symptoms for a concussion. The health care professional may also administer either paper-pencil or computerized neuropsychological tests as a component of the baseline test assessing the patient’s memory, concentration, and reaction time.

The baseline test also checks whether the patient has any history of concussions, the symptoms experienced, and the time it took to recovery from the injury. All other medical conditions that could impact recovery are assessed, such as:

- Depression
- Anxiety
- Migraines
- Mood disorders
- Learning disabilities
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

How Often Should Someone Have a Concussion Baseline Test?

For baseline testing to be effective, the majority of the components must be repeated at least yearly to ensure the results are valid for comparison. On the other hand, paper-pencil and computerized neuropsychological tests can be repeated every two years. However, if an athlete has suffered from a concussion or if they have known medical conditions that could have an impact on the test results, more frequent neuropsychological tests may be needed.

Who Interprets the Concussion Baseline Test?

Specifically, a healthcare professional who is trained in concussion management should interpret the results of the test. If possible, the paper-pencil or computerized neuropsychological tests should be interpreted by a neuropsychologist. In any case, the neuropsychological tests shouldn't be used as a sole diagnostic tool. However, this test should be a component of tools used by the health care professional to determine when your child should return to school and play.

Simply put, the concussion baseline test is an important measure for women, men, and children of all ages. Contact us today or call us to request your free consultation.

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