As of August 1, 2010, it will be required that all student-athletes participating in the sports of field hockey, soccer, volleyball, basketball, wrestling, baseball, softball, and lacrosse be baseline tested using ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing), a computerized neuropsychological test, prior to their first practice. In the following academic years, only new athletes will need to be tested. Student-athletes will have the opportunity to complete these tests in a computer lab under the supervision of an Sports Medicine Staff member. If a student-athlete fails to complete a baseline assessment before their first scheduled practice, the Sports Medicine Staff will restrict participation until the baseline test has been completed.
Neuropsychological testing has proven to be an effective tool in assessing neurocognitive changes following concussion and can serve as an important component of an institution’s concussion management plan. However, neuropsychological tests should not be used as a standalone measure to diagnose the presence or absence of a concussion. Each baseline assessment will also consist of a Standardized Assessment of Concussion (SAC), a Balance Error Scoring System (BESS), and a symptom checklist.
According to the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports (CSMAS), when a student-athlete exhibits any signs, symptoms, or behaviors consistent with a concussion, he or she must be evaluated by health care professional. Upon evaluation, if it is determined that the student-athlete has a concussion, he or she will be removed from practice or competition and may not return to activity for the remainder of that day. Student-athletes that sustain a concussion outside of their sport will be managed in the same manner as those sustained during sport activity
Concussions will be assessed by focusing attention on the athlete’s recovery via symptoms, neurocognitive testing, and postural-stability testing, and not on a grading scale. The baseline assessment tools will be used again post-injury at appropriate time intervals, a minimum of 24-hours following the concussion, or until the athlete is symptom free. This post-injury data from ImPACT will be interpreted by a member of the athletic training staff and/or team physician. Once an athlete who has sustained a concussion is symptom-free for 48-hours, he or she will be put through a progression of exertion tests over a 48-hour period. The athlete will be asked to report symptoms during each exertion test. If no symptoms are produced, either acutely or in delayed fashion, the athlete will then be allowed to participate in sport-specific skills, and allowed a gradual return to practice. However, the athlete must still refrain from any activities that put him or her at risk for head injury. The athlete may resume full-activity after 48-hours of restricted activity with no returning symptoms.
It is strongly recommended that after a second injury, especially within-season, the athlete be withheld for a period of 7 days after symptoms have resolved. Guidelines from Cantu and the American Academy of Neurology both recommend termination of the season after the third concussion within the same season. Final authority for Return-to-Play shall reside with the team physician or the physician’s designee (ie. Certified Athletic Trainer).