High school athletes pre-tested for future concussion evaluation
Berkeley Springs High School football players will be administered baseline testing for a computerized concussion evaluation system this week, said high school Assistant Principal Jamie Harris.
The ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) computerized system was developed in the 1990s to help clinicians and athletic trainers make sound return to play decisions following concussions, according to the manufacturer’s information.
Athletes will be issued a 20-minute online standardized test with questions they will answer, Harris said. That baseline information will be registered and stored at the Eastern Division of the West Virginia University Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center.
If an athlete is hit during play, they can be tested with the same questions. University physicians compare the data from the pre and post concussion testing. They can determine if the athletes have had a concussion and what type of concussion they have sustained, Harris said.
The ImPACT test measures a player’s symptoms and functions such as attention span, verbal and visual memory, sustained and selective attention time, response variability, non-verbal problem solving and reaction time to a 1/100 of a second.
Morgan County Extension Service agent Denis Scott brought Harris and West Virginia University officials together for a meeting about the ImPACT computerized software. Berkeley and Jefferson Counties have also been using it, he said.
The ImPACT testing for football players was proposed for August 2. Harris said they are mainly targeting football, but also hope to have the pre-testing available for soccer players since it is another high-impact sport.
All of their head coaches take a course about concussion injuries and are certified by the National Federation of High School Athletes in that regard, he said. They encourage other coaches to take the course and become certified as well.
Harris said their football helmets are examined annually by a company that makes recommendations as to whether the helmets can be reconditioned or whether they need new helmets.
Some 40 new football helmets had been ordered for the high school football program at a cost of over $1,000, said Morgan County Schools Treasurer Nancy White.
Some football helmets are still in good condition and don’t need replaced. Eventually helmets deteriorate to the point where they can’t be reconditioned and they purchase new ones, White said.
The new helmets are made with the highest standards to protect against head injuries. Athlete safety is kept in the highest regard, she said.