What is concussion baseline testing?

Concussion baseline testing is a method of providing information regarding brain functioning of an athlete prior to receiving a head injury. The baseline allows for a normal or pre-injury test comparison if an athlete receives an injury. This testing becomes especially important for athletes who participate in contact sports such as football, soccer, and rugby, because of the potential for receiving blows to or hitting of the head. Concussion baseline testing is usually done prior to the beginning of an athletic season. The test may include different areas of focus such as short-term memory, concentration, visual-spatial skills, attention, and/or reaction time. The test may be a paper and pencil test that the health care professional performs or it may be completed as a computerized program by the athlete. The answers are kept on file in case the athlete receives a head injury at a later time. Part of the evaluation of any head injury will include the same test as was performed during the baseline testing. This will provide the health care professional pre-injury data with which to compare post-injury data. An injured athlete that is unable to perform with the same accuracy as seen in the baseline testing will be flagged as having signs and symptoms of a concussion. This will help with the decision as to whether or not an athlete can return to practice or a game situation. Use of the concussion baseline testing will be only part of the thorough evaluation of the athlete as to the extent of the head injury.

(This answer provided for NATA by Dani Moffit, PhD, ATC.)

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.