What is a Baseline Test and Why is it Important?
Because concussions can be difficult to diagnose and test for, many health professionals recommend that athletes obtain a baseline test before the start of the sport season. A baseline test gives Dr. Janzen a point of reference or “snap shot” of your pre-season cognitive and physical function so that if you sustain a concussion, the after-injury results can be compared to your baseline test. Having a baseline test helps him more accurately gauge the severity of your injury, objectively monitor your recovery, and determine when it is safe for you to return to play.
Who Should Undergo Baseline Testing?
Anyone can obtain a baseline test, however it is recommended in particular for those at higher risk of sustaining a head injury (i.e. athletes participating in sports that pose a high risk for body contact or collisions i.e. hockey, football, rugby).
What does a Baseline Test Involve?
At Bow River Chiropractic Clinic we use a combination of several testing strategies to obtain a comprehensive picture of each athlete.
Neurocognitive Testing (ImPACT)
Recent advancements in concussion management have resulted in the widespread use of computer-based neurocognitive tests, and evidence now shows that concussed athletes demonstrate subtle cognitive deficits that may persist beyond symptom resolution – emphasizing the fact that return to play once “symptom-free” is no longer an accurate measure of readiness. For this reason, Shift-Trained Healthcare Providers employ computerized neurocognitive testing as part of all baseline and post-injury assessments. This type of testing provides the practitioner with a snapshot of how an athlete’s brain is functioning both pre and post injury by measuring things like reaction time, processing speed, memory, and attention/concentration. These cognitive processes are often affected by concussive injury, and so this type of testing provides important information when managing an athlete’s recovery.
Balance and Postural Stability
It is well established that balance and postural stability are often affected following a concussive injury. Every athlete is unique and with each season may be at a different level of physical development and athletic skill. At Bow River Chiropractic we recommend adding a balance assessment to each preseason test.
Visual Coordination Screening
The visual system is often significantly impacted by a concussive injury. Symptoms of visual dysfunction after a concussion may include eye pain, dizziness, focusing issues, difficulty reading and headaches. Screening visual coordination skills at baseline aids health professionals in better identifying these issues after a concussion and recommending the right form of therapy.