Approximately 136,000 concussions occur at the high school level each year. Although this accounts for a fraction of the athletes that participate in contact/collision sports, 100% of them are at risk for concussion.
Aligned with national initiatives to reduce the inherent danger of contact/collision sports in high school athletes, Bayhealth’s Orthopaedic and Neurosciences Service Line provides Immediate Post-Concussion and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) to two Dover high schools.
“This is an excellent addition to the medical care of our local high school student athletes,” said Gabriel Lewullis, MD, a local orthopaedic surgeon fellowship-trained in sports medicine. “It will provide another tool for the physicians in Dover to protect athletes from the harmful effects of repetitive traumatic brain injury.”
From October 2011 through May 2012, 264 students from Poly Tech High School and 142 students from Caesar Rodney High School received the baseline ImPACT test, and in the 2013 Fiscal Year so far, 102 Poly Tech students and 31 Caesar Rodney students have been tested. In the 2013 Fiscal Year, Bayhealth expanded the concussion clinic to Dover High School and Smyrna High School, where 200 students and 53 students, respectively, received the baseline test.
According to Dr. Lewullis, “While there is no 100% perfect test currently available for concussion management, the ImPACT test does provide some objectivity to monitoring a student-athlete’s post-concussion recovery. Athletic trainers and team physicians have become even more sensitive to the signs and symptoms of concussions. Continued concussion education of our athletes, parents, coaches, trainers and physicians is also vital to reduce the risk of chronic traumatic encephalopathy of our kids.”
In addition, with the recent addition of neurosurgeon James Mills, MD, the Orthopaedic and Neurosciences Service Line has added a comprehensive concussion clinic. The clinic centralizes around the expertise of Dr. Mills as well as the objective information generated via the ImPACT programs.
From October 2011 through May 2012, Bayhealth’s concussion clinic assessed 27 students who were either diagnosed with a concussion or suspected to have a concussion.
“This type of concussion assessment can help to objectively evaluate the concussed athlete’s post-injury condition and track recovery for safe return to play, thus preventing the cumulative effects of concussion,” Dr. Mills said.
The ImPACT program measures cognitive functioning in athletes, including attention span, working memory, sustained and selective attention time, non-verbal problem solving and reaction time. The foundation of the program rests upon preseason or baseline testing. An athlete completes a computer-based test pre-season and the data is stored. If an athlete experiences a traumatic injury, the test is once again administered, with post-injury data then compared to the baseline data. With the generated data and a clinical exam, Dr. Mills can make an objective decision regarding return to play.
Prior to implementation of the ImPACT program, concussed athletes were often overlooked. The cumulative effects of multiple concussions can be devastating.
According to Bayhealth Vice President of Ancillary and Clinical Services Line Brad Kirkes, MBA, MHA, OTR/L, CHT, Bayhealth will expand the concussion clinic to other area high schools and collegiate athletes as well. Any high school student may also report to their respective Bayhealth Wellness Center to be tested for concussions as well.
For more information about the concussion clinic or ImPACT testing, please contact Bayhealth’s Neurosurgery Department at (302) 526-1470.