A great deal of attention has been paid recently to the problem of concussions in our children and young athletes. Given the potential for significant cognitive impact and debilitating symptoms, this concern is well placed. However, part of the difficulty in managing these patients has always been their frequent lack of objective findings. Concussion patents might be suffering with terrible symptoms, while their CT and MRI scans remain completely normal.
As a result, we are very pleased to offer ImPACT testing in our office. ImPACT is a computer based tool for neurocognitive assessment. It allows us to quantitatively evaluate more subtle mental skills like memory, pattern recognition, and reaction time. It is most useful if we have a baseline, pre-injury test for comparison. Sometimes these tests are available through local schools. Sometimes not.
Baseline testing can be performed through our office for any patient aged 11 years and up. It takes about 30 minutes and should be repeated every two years. The cost is $25. Sadly, while ImPACT testing after injuries is generally a covered medical service for both commercial and Husky insurance, it is not covered beforehand. But baseline testing is REALLY important when we try and determine if concussive symptoms have resolved, so we sincerely hope the cost will not present a major barrier for our patients.
As we head into the busy summer season, I hope families will give this some thought, especially when the children are very active in sports. Think of it like insurance. Hopefully, it’s never needed, but you might be glad to have it just in case.