Concussion testing offered for student athletes


As practice for middle school and high school athletics got started this summer, student athletes in middle school and high school in Fayette County were asked to sit down at a computer and complete a 20-minute test. This was part of a program sponsored by Piedmont Fayette Hospital and approved by the Fayette County Board of Education to provide a baseline score for future concussion testing.

Called ImPACT, this neurocognitive battery of tests measures the effects of a concussion. If a concussion is suspected during the athletic season, a follow-up test is administered to see if the results have changed from the baseline.

“The test helps determine a child’s readiness to return to school or an athlete’s readiness to return to play,” said Michael Behr, M.D. “Traditional radiology tests are often ineffective at identifying the functional effects of a concussion and many times clinicians have to rely on self-reports from the patients or subjective observations. This takes the guesswork out of it.”

If it has been determined that an athlete has suffered a concussion, the player’s physician, team and Piedmont Fayette will work together, following an established concussion management protocol to treat the concussion.

“The short-term effects of a concussion, such as a flawed memory or trouble concentrating, can plague a young person through life,” said Dr. Behr. “There is also a serious risk for traumatic injury if a player goes back to the game before they are ready. Even a mild blow could result in brain swelling, brain damage or even death.”

This program has tested more than 900 students already this month and it is estimated that 3,000 students will participate in the program by the end of the school year. Testing is recommended for student athletes every two years. Piedmont Fayette is committed to the health and safety of the community and knows that this testing program will help keep these athletes safe both on and off the field.