Computerized testing improves high school response to athlete concussion
The past decade has seen a drastic increase in the number of young people visiting the emergency room with sports or recreational-related brain injuries.1 This, combined with growing public attention to sports-related brain injuries, has lead many high schools to improve their responses to athlete concussions.
More schools are now using computerized testing to evaluate athletes' concussions. In just one school year in 2010, the number of schools using computerized testing jumped by 15%, so that now 40% of schools with at least one athletic trainer report using computerized testing, according to a recent study from the journal Pediatrics.2-3 Schools that used computers were also more likely to have physicians decide when an athlete should return to play.
Sometimes, it's difficult to tell when an athlete has fully recovered from a concussion, and with pressure to return to the game, athletes may be playing sooner than they should. This could lead dangerous outcomes later on. In other posts, we've talked about how a lifetime of small head traumas can develop into more serious brain damage and even a degenerative disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE has claimed the lives of at least 20 professional athletes in recent years. Lifetime athletes of football, hockey, boxing, and soccer are high-risk because of the collision nature of the sports.4-6
Researchers said that computerized testing helped physicians better evaluate whether or not athletes were ready to return to the game. Often this meant that more athletes waited longer than 10 days to play. Other studies have shown that teens between the ages of 11-15 years can take up to 14 days to regain their normal cognitive functioning after a concussion.7 A slight increase in recovery time then may prevent teens from further injury.
If you are an athlete in a collision sport, if you do get a concussion, it's crucial to consult with a physician about when's it's appropriate to return to the game in order to avoid further brain damage.
- "Nonfatal Traumatic Brain Injuries Related to Sports and Recreation Activities Among Persons Aged ?19 Years --- United States, 2001--2009". Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 7 October 2011.http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6039a1.htm?s_cid=mm6039a1_w. Accessed October 19, 2011.
- Meehan WP III, et al. "Computerized neurocognitive testing for the management of sport-related concussions" Pediatric. January, 2012; 129: 1-7.
- Phend, Crystal. "More Schools Using Computers to Test for Concussions." Medpage Today. November� 30, 2011. Accessed December 20, 2011. http://www.medpagetoday.com/Neurology/HeadTrauma/29936
- Master, J.T., A.G. Kessels, B.D. Jordan, M.D. Lezak, and J. Troost. "Chronic traumatic brain injury in professional soccer players." Neurology.1999: 791-6.
- "Boston University Doctor Answers Questions from Readers." December 6, 2011. Accessed December 6, 2011. http://slapshot.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/06/boston-university-doctor-answers-questions-from-readers/.
- Walsh, Nancy. "Pro-Bowl Player's Suicide Renews Head Trauma Debate." February 25, 2011. Medpage Today.Accessed December 6, 2011. http://www.medpagetoday.com/Orthopedics/SportsMedicine/25064.
- Maugans TA, et al "Pediatric sports-related concussion produces cerebral blood flow alterations" Pediatrics 2012; 129: 1-10.