As concussions have become the focus for both professional and amateur athletes around the world, we wanted to be at the forefront of concussion diagnosis, management, and rehabilitation. With our collaboration and education through Complete Concussion Management, we now offer the very best in research-proven concussion treatments and rehabilitation. The appropriate diagnosis and management of a concussion is imperative as these injuries may not display obvious outward symptoms and can often go undiagnosed. Inappropriate activities, sporting or school/related, following a concussion, can increase the risk of subsequent, more serious and potentially permanent or fatal brain injury.
What is Baseline Testing?
The biggest concern surrounding concussions comes from the energy deficit that occurs in the brain following injury. When the brain is in this low energy state, it has been well established that the brain is extremely vulnerable to additional trauma, where even smaller impacts can lead to another concussion; and these second concussions can cause severe brain injuries with potentially permanent or fatal outcomes.
The problem is that symptoms (meaning how someone feels) do not coincide with brain recovery. The only way to know when the brain has fully recovered and out of this "vulnerable period" is to compare current brain function to when the individual was healthy; this is what is known as a "baseline test".
A baseline test is a battery of tests that measures every area of brain function that could potentially become affected following a concussion (you need more than computer tests!). The reason that the test is termed a "baseline" is because it is done BEFORE the athlete gets injured. In order to know when an athlete has fully recovered, we first have to know where they were when they were healthy. Without having this information, there is no way to truly know when an athlete has fully recovered and is safe to return to their sport.
Baseline testing is the most important thing to get done prior to beginning your sports season on a yearly basis.
**Please note: proper baseline evaluations involve more than just online or computerized neurocognitive testing! These tests have been shown to be unreliable as a stand-alone measure of function in numerous studies.
Furthermore, these tests do not measure a number of brain areas that are frequently affected following concussion injuries. Major sports organizations do use these online tests and so does Complete Concussion Management™ however, we, just like professional sports organizations, also use a wide variety of testing procedures to gather the most comprehensive picture of an athlete's abilities both prior to and following injury. Be cautious of clinics that advertise concussion management services that rely heavily on computer tests as these will not provide you with an accurate baseline on their own. The biggest concern surrounding concussions comes from the energy deficit that occurs in the brain following injury. When the brain is in this low energy state, it has been well established that the brain is extremely vulnerable to additional trauma, where even smaller impacts can lead to another concussion; and these second concussions can cause severe brain injuries with potentially permanent or fatal outcomes.
Post Concussion Treatment
Post-Concussion Syndrome occurs when concussion related symptoms last longer than 3-4 weeks. Symptoms may include any of the following:
The goal of a post-concussive treatment program is to decrease the intensity of and ultimately remove the persistent concussion symptoms. The aim is to return patients to regular activities of daily living and/or sport activities. Treatment must first assess the specific causes of the individual symptoms. Once determined, an individual rehabilitation program can be created for the different musculoskeletal, eye tracking, concentration and aerobic dependent reasons for the symptoms.
Our concussion treatment and return to learn/work/play programs have been developed though Complete Concussion Management are covered by secondary health benefits! Complete Concussion Management is a Canada-wide network comprised of over 200 certified practitioners, utilizing the most cutting-edge concussion treatment and rehabilitation techniques to support athletes and concussed patients across the country.
Return-to-learn deals with strategies to reintegrate students back into regular mental activity and learning following a concussion. Concussions can have a significant short-term impact on a memory and concentration abilities, often times grades begin to suffer if this process is not dealt with appropriately. Our trained clinicians offer a stepwise reintegration back into the school environment through modifications and communication with teaching and school administrative staff. Our program offers rehabilitation programs for students that are having difficulty with certain aspects of brain function.
Similar to return-to-learn, the return-to-work program offers a stepwise reintegration back into the working environment for concussed patients.
Following a concussion, return-to-play is a stepwise process, which gradually introduces the athlete back into their specific sporting environment. This process gradually reintroduces varying degrees of physical and sport specific activity, assessing recovery of abnormal brain blood flow and/or vestibular function. This stepwise approach is capped off with a final physical test, designed by the Chicago Blackhawks medical staff. In addition to re-testing all pre-injury cognitive and physical measures, this test assesses an individual’s level of recovery and ability to return to full game play.
The most important step in this process is the final testing, which is compared to the results of your baseline test that is done prior to starting each season. Without knowing what your memory, concentration, balance, visual tracking speed, processing abilities, reaction time, etc. was when you were healthy, it is very difficult to truly know when you have recovered following a brain injury.
Please get a baseline test done every year BEFORE you start your season!