Iowa Specialty Hospital

ImPACT Testing and Your Child

August 20, 2019

According the Center for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 283,000 children are seen in emergency departments each year for sports or recreation-related traumatic brain injuries.  Approximately 45% of these are caused by contact sports such as football, soccer, basketball, and playground activities.  The highest rate was among males and children ages 10-14 and 15-17 years.

As of July 1, 2019, school districts are being asked to have stricter guidelines and policies for brain injuries such as concussions. There are guidelines for returning to the classroom (return to learn) and also to the playing field (return to play). Returning too soon, increases the risk for sustaining second-impact syndrome, which is a second concussion before the symptoms of the first have subsided. This can cause rapid swelling of the brain which can be life threatening. 

Athletes who have had one concussion are 1.5 times more likely to have a second; those who have sustained two concussions have nearly 3 times greater risk, and those with three or more have a 3.5 higher risk according to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.

Iowa Specialty Hospitals & Clinics will partner with area schools to implement a baseline for students prior to their athletic season through ImPACT testing.  ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) tests memory, attention span, and visual and verbal problem solving.  It is a tool to support trained healthcare providers in making educated decisions about returning to activities following a concussion.

Iowa Specialty Hospital has three Credentialed ImPACT Consultants (CIC) within our system: Drs. Jon Ahrendsen, Caleb Aswegen, and Renee Diamond. When a concussion has been sustained, providers can compare the initial baseline test to a post-injury test to determine the athlete’s true cognitive function.  Neurocognitive testing is the “cornerstone” of modern concussion management. It provides objective data to evaluate a patient’s post-injury condition and aids in tracking recovery for safe return to activity.

“ImPACT testing is a great resource for our medical team to have when determining how well a student athlete is healing after being diagnosed with a concussion,” shared Alison Angstrom, Orthopedic  Program Director at Iowa Specialty Hospital. “Athletes truly want to be on the playing field, and will tell us what they think we need to hear in order to participate in activities sooner, no matter what their true symptoms may be. This tool gives objective criteria to assess the brain before injuries by obtaining a baseline test.  After an injury occurs, it ensures the athlete is getting back to that baseline before returning to play.” 

It should be noted that ImPACT testing is not a replacement for a CAT scan, MRI, or other medical technology, but it is a great tool that provides objective data. The goal is to keep student athletes safe, and help them return to the classroom and playing field in a healthy way. 

For questions about ImPACT testing, please contact Alison Angstrom at 515-602-9806.

Example problem to be solved during ImPACT testing.  Example problem to be solved during ImPACT testing.  Example problem to be solved during ImPACT testing.

Pictured above are examples of different test problems a student would encounter during ImPACT testing.

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