When Millard South Head Coach Andy Means played football for the Huskers in the late'70s, a bump on the head was just a bump on the head. “Back then you had to have a pretty severe concussion for people to notice", Means said.” If he could walk, he could play, and went right back in the game. That was more than 30 years and five concussions ago – when no one seemed to fully understand head injuries and how serious they could be.
These days, protecting athletes starts with a test long before they snap the first ball. ImPACT is a computerized concussion evaluation system, is a 25-minute, pre-injury, neuro-cognitive test that gives doctors a objective and clear baseline picture of what’s going on inside the player’s head.
Craig Holz, Athletic Trainer, Alegent Creighton Health said measurement is part of the landscape now because "there’s so much emphasis on protecting the players from concussions, so we’re trying to do the best we can to protect them the best we can.” He added “We had a lot of concussions last year, so what we did today is establish a baseline, which we do every other year. If we think somebody’s concussed we compare that test after they concussed to their baseline.”
Holz administers the test. He is one of 15 certified athletic trainers on duty at area high schools, paid for in part by Alegent Creighton Health. It’s a partnership designed to keep kids safe when all they’re thinking about is playing ball.
Holz said “If you had the athlete who wanted to play no matter what, he’s not going to tell you he’s got a headache, he feels like throwing up, he’s dizzy, his ears are ringing; so this is very helpful.” Sideline doctor and orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Brian Conroy couldn’t agree more. He makes the tough call when an athlete is benched. And there’s no second guessing ImPACT.
“ImPACT “gives you a picture of what their mental abilities are before they were hurt”, Dr. Conroy, explained. “After the event, we can do another test to see if their mental abilities are below par. As we go through the recovery process, we can measure mental as well as physical abilities to help us determine if they are ready to go back to sports.”
Athletes in sports in which there is a greater chance of head injury take the ImPACT test. Unlike broken bones, you can’t see a concussion, but now with the help of science, sideline medicine and an investment from Alegent Creighton Health, players have another line of defense to cut down on sports injuries.