CONCUSSION MANAGEMENT

A decreased ability to maintain balance is one of the hallmark signs of concussion.

As research continues to demonstrate the potential long term impact of concussion in sports, the importance of objective assessment in the management of concussion has become vital.

Baseline tests are performed on athletes preseason to establish an individual athlete’s pre-injury performance. Today, the proper management of concussion should include baseline Balance Assessment, Cognitive Assessment and Graded Symptoms Checklist. The NCAA® and NATA® have identified these as the three essential assessment pillars. When combined, these preseason baseline tests can provide a comparison point for cognitive function and objectively quantified balance for athletes. In the case of a suspected concussion, it is these baseline tests which post-injury assessments are compared, providing the objective data necessary to track recovery.

t Research shows that athletes often demonstrate decreased stability post-concussion. 6 The postural stability deficit can best be explained by a sensory interaction problem that prevents concussed athletes from accurately using and exchanging sensory information from the visual, vestibular, and somatosensory systems. 6 Difficulty in postural sway control can persist even after signs and symptoms of concussion subside. 7 More simply stated, the athlete may appear asymptomatic and even pass a computerized cognitive test. However, the lingering effects of a balance disturbance from head trauma would go otherwise undetected without a balance assessment.

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