Baseline testing modules and parameters for concussions are a necessity. Looking at specific metrics and symptoms directly correlated with an individual who has suffered trauma is an excellent way to identify and address the problem. However, the current testing is not as good as it could be. The American Academy of Pediatrics cites that “11% to 35% of athletes could avoid detection when intentionally performing poorly on Computerized Neurocognitive Tests (CNTs), “leading to prematurely returning to regular activities and increasing their risk of a repeat injury.” The biggest issue with concussion baseline testing is that it fails to consider how individualized concussions are. Concussions signs and symptoms can vary widely from player to player. Current diagnostic methods place all players under the same umbrella and treat them practically the same regardless of the specific symptoms they are experiencing. Unfortunately, some athletes display no physical impairment, leading medical professionals and trainers to assume that the concussion has subsided while there is still a significant amount of cognitive impairment. Rather than relying on testing based on common concussion symptoms, testing should be performed around the individual, devoting more attention to the areas where athletes present the most significant symptoms.
At the youth level, it takes a combined effort between players, parents, and coaches to get it right. To develop improved concussion protocols, education is an essential ingredient. For more information on concussions, please visit www United Brain Association .org and check out our Brain Resources and our Series on Concussion and Sports. We must adapt and continually improve the management of concussions, especially at the youth level. We should follow the science and implement any and all preventative and protective measures to maximize player safety and minimize the incidence and effects of concussions.
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