Baseline concussion testing may not protect your child

By David Bertone, PT, DPT, OCS

Parents get the letter sent home every year about the high school’s concussion testing policy, but do you adequately understand what is being done to protect your child if they sustain a head injury during a sporting event?

The easy part in concussion management is the diagnosis of concussion. It is very simple: you sustain a blow to the head or jolting of the head and you have symptoms and the athlete is concussed. The hard part is objectively determining when the athlete is truly ready to return to play. Without comprehensive baseline testing, the decision is only based on guess work instead of data and patient analysis. Most of the area high schools utilize a computer-based test call ImPACT. This neurocognitive test is usually administered freshman year and rarely retested during their four years of high school. If a head injury is suspected during a school event, the test is administered and results sent to your physician. Unfortunately, the results are not interpreted by anyone and most pediatricians are not trained in analyzing the data. In addition, this test only looks at cognitive function and does not measure other systems that are impacted by a head injury.

The ConcussionRXcare™ baseline testing program tests the athletes balance, neurocognitive and oculomotor systems using the latest technology that can be delivered in a reasonable time period. The data is stored and used for comparison purposes in case of possible head injury. If a head injury occurs, the athlete is retested, the results are analyzed by an expert in concussion management and recommendations are made based on the objective data. The report is then sent to your physician. If the results are within normal limits compared to pre-injury status and the athlete has no symptoms, they are cleared for return to play protocol and final physician clearance which is required by state law. If the results are abnormal, they are retested several days later. If they continue to be abnormal, they are referred to a concussion specialist for consultation. Reports are generated along the way keeping you and your physician aware of the findings. This is all included in the initial cost of $49.95 for one year from the date of baseline testing.

ConcussionRXcare with offices in Lincroft and Manalapan have tested thousands of athletes over the past 10 years and have successfully prevented all of them from returning too soon and sustaining more devastating injury. We have seen many children with no symptoms but have abnormal test results post injury. Without this testing, they would have returned to play too soon and be at risk for catastrophic injury or even death caused by a second head trauma while still recovering from the first one. Parents who have signed their children up for this program and had their child sustain a concussion are extremely grateful for the protection this program provided them. Sportika in Manalapan is taking every precaution to maximally protect their athletes from the risk of catastrophic head injury by mandating this program for all their soccer players. You can register your child 10 years of age and older at www.ConcussionRXcare.com or call 732-747-1262.

Dr. Bertone is a doctoral trained physical therapist and board-certified in orthopedic rehabilitation by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties. He is president of db Orthopedic Physical Therapy and creator of ConcussionRXCare with locations in Lincroft and Manalapan. He is an adjunct professor at Rutgers University, teaching concussion management, and has lectured nationally on concussion management for physical therapists. Dr. Bertone can be reached at 732-747- 1262 or via email at dbertone@dborthopt.com.