There’s an epidemic going on right now, and it’s sure to be invading the offices of healthcare professionals around the nation. Unlike the opioid epidemic, this issue is a little harder to identify. It could be found in the pee wee football player that takes a hard hit. Or, it could be a college soccer player that takes a ball to the head. Undiagnosed concussions have been plaguing sports for decades now, and health professionals are still trying to diagnose them correctly. What we once deemed as “getting your bell rung” is now scientifically proven to be a much more serious issue. Luckily, a new initiative to perform baseline concussion testing is catching concussions at an early stage before they can turn into some even more deadly. Below we’ll take a look at the importance of baseline concussion testing and why it could be a lifesaver to thousands of athletes every single year.
The Importance of Baseline Concussion Testing
What is Baseline Concussion Testing?
Before we can get into the importance of baseline concussion testing, we first need to know exactly what it is. Those who are unfamiliar with the test, might think that asking “how many fingers am I holding up?” would cover it. Unfortunately, this isn’t exactly the best practice. Instead, the baseline concussion test is a little more extensive. Baseline concussion testing is a pre-season exam that assesses an athlete’s balance and brain function. This includes learning and memory skills, the ability to pay attention or concentrate, how quickly he or she thinks and solve problems, as well as for the presence of any concussion symptoms. Healthcare professionals can then use this as a starting point when they test a patient who may have had a concussion. Let’s take a look at the importance of baseline concussion testing below.
Comparison Is Crucial
One of the toughest things about diagnosing a concussion is that your sample size is only one person. Since every individual is different, each patient must be on a case by case basis. All are different. Baseline testing gives health professionals the ability to diagnose and treat the issue based on the specific case. A baseline test creates a “normal” that is comparable to the current situation. This will give insight into the injury and will ensure that the patient is getting the best possible care. In many cases, an individual will be tested multiple times, especially if he or she has a history of concussions.
Detection, Not Diagnosis
The importance of baseline concussion testing comes from the ability to detect a possible concussion in the future. While it can’t replace technologies like CAT-scans and EKGs, it gives health professionals the ability to gauge an athlete in real-time. Most of the time this test will prevent a player who may have suffered a concussion from returning to the game and causing more damage.
The Beginning of the Journey
One of the biggest mistakes that many concussion protocol programs will make is not following through with athletes who have dealt with a concussion. While it’s important to conduct baseline concussion testing, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A complete program must have an effective concussion awareness educational component. It should also have a sideline detection and reporting tool, and guided recovery protocols. The program should guide patients through not just the diagnoses, but through the recovery process as well. When they finally make it back onto the field, examine them once again to ensure that brain injuries do not stack up.
Peace of Mind
Finally, one of the most important aspects of baseline concussion testing is the peace of mind that it can provide to not just patients, but to parents and loved ones as well. A brain injury of any severity is a scary ordeal. Testing immediately when an incident happens will reassure those involved. At the end of the day, these are people who are often scared and disoriented. Being able to make the call and look out for his or her well-being is crucial.
Do you have experience with baseline concussion testing or implanting a concussion protocol? Comment below!