Concussion testing now done at LHS

Concussion testing now done at LHS

Paige Mullins, Staff Writer

Some student athletes will now have their brain activity tested before each sports season so that in the event of a blow to the head it can be determined whether or not the athlete suffered a concussion.  

The program, Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Test, or ImPACT, will calculate one’s attention span, working memory, sustained and selective attention, response variability, non-verbal problem solving, and reaction time, according to the ImPACT website

“Not all sports are taking the test right now but we hope that in the future every student athlete at LHS will take the test every other year, so that in four years at the high school each student athlete will have taken the test twice,” said LHS Athletic Trainer Katie Sylvain.

At LHS the only sports teams at present taking the test are the high impact sports like  football, soccer, hockey, basketball, skiing and wrestling. Although Band Director Mr. Kevin Mcavoy has to be educated in preforming the concussion protocol testing in the case that the band were to have flag twirling. LHS has made the purchase of the test because it serves as a great tool to help monitor concussions of student athletes.

“I believe the testing is very helpful,” said junior Ashley Picard. “I play softball and if I were to get hit in the head with the ball this test would help me out.”

Concussions are an injuries that cannot be “seen.” Many people mistake a concussion as a bruise to the brain, but when in fact the injury is to the overall functions of the brain. The damage to the brain when a concussion occurs is at a microscopic level in which cells cell membranes are torn and stretched, according to Sylvain

“The NFL, NBA and most colleges locally and around the nation use the ImPACT test. All organizations have had great experiences with the test and found it to be a most helpful tool in monitoring a student athletes signs and symptoms as well as determine recovery from injury and helped allied health professionals communicate with coaches and the recovery process,” said Sylvain.

The program is being funded through a grant, according to Health Care Coordinator of Ludlow Public Schools Wendy Gage.

“I wrote the grant  two years ago. The grant is to last five years. Prior to this grant the district had a similar grant for ten years,” she said.

The grant that has been installed is called the ESHS grand and is given through the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Seventy Seven districts across the state use this new concussion protocol grant. The money is used for salaries, the computer software, AED’s,  medical equipment, health programs, and CPR.

“Through the programming line of my grant I am able to fund the new ImPACT program,” said Gage. “I did this based on the new concussion law requirements that recently were set forward by the state.”

This new test has been in place since the summer of 2010 and LHS students have been taking their baseline tests since the beginning of the fall sports season.

There is now a draft concussion policy in place with the school and Ludlow Public Schools Health Department. They are working with the Baystate Medical Center to get the new policy under way.

The school will be having a speaker on the evening of March 15 coming to discuss the precautions that should come with the issue of concussions. This session will take place at 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at St. Elizabeth’s Parish, 181 Hubbard St., and will be open to student athletes, parents, teachers, school nurses, and coaches.