Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia - 41

IS BASELINE CONCUSSION
TESTING EFFECTIVE?

WEBSITE

Concussion screenings are now being used in sports at all levels-from
high school to professional-to help determine whether an athlete is ready
to return to play. The individual takes an exam via computer that tests
his or her cognitive abilities, and the results serve as a baseline to retest
You know football has a high rate of concusagainst after a suspected concussion. But are these tests effective? Neha
sion. But did you know women's hockey has
Raukar, MD, a fellowship-trained primary care sports medicine physician
a much higher rate? Learn more from UVA
and spokeswoman for the American College of Emergency Physicians,
Health System researchers at uvahealth.
supports their use but sees two potential challenges:
com/concussion.
1. Effectiveness. "Like any test of this type, it's only as effective as the
person who reads it," she says. And a computerized test can't assess headache, sleeping problems and other signs of concussion.
2. Sabotage. Professional athletes have admitted to bombing their baseline
Look for Vision
scores so that their results look the same after a potential concussion, Dr. Raukar
Problems
says. But she asserts that a person who's skilled at reading an ImPACT test should
Issues with sight, such
be able to discern a normal test from one that's been failed on purpose.
as blurry or double vision, can be
"That said, computerized testing is just one more tool in the toolkit," she says.
"It shouldn't be used as a stand-alone."
challenging to detect-both by the

A Heads-Up About
Concussions

Watch for
Physical
Symptoms

PHOTO AND ICONS BY GETTY IMAGES

There are obvious physical signs
that warrant a trip to the emergency
department: loss of consciousness,
seizures or not being able to move
an arm or leg. But more subtle signs
including headaches, dizziness, sensitivity to light, or nausea and vomiting can also indicate a problem and
should be brought to the attention
of a doctor.

Don't Ignore
Emotional
Changes
"If your child is acting anxious,
or more emotional, sad or irritable than usual, it's something
you'll want to pay attention to,"
Raukar says.

Beware
Cognitive
Problems
You may not notice problems with
memory or concentration until your
child needs to use those skills, Raukar
says. Once at school, he or she
might have difficulties. "They may
just feel foggy," she says. "It's like
they're looking at the world through
a TV with rabbit ears rather than
high-def."

Monitor Sleep
Concussions tend to cause
sleep disturbances in one
of two ways: The individual might
feel tired and want to sleep all the
time, or he or she may have difficulty
falling asleep. "Lethargy is more
common, but it's usually one or the
other," Raukar says.

parent and the child-especially if
they are minor. But ask your child
about any vision problems and see
a doctor if you have concerns or
notice changes.

Assess Their
Balance
Balance problems aren't
always as noticeable as one might
think, Raukar says. And they can
develop a while after the incident.
Look for signs in the child's gait when
walking or if he or she seems to be
leaning to one side when standing.
If you're still not sure how to proceed-whether that means pulling
your child from play at school or taking him or her to the doctor, Raukar
recommends following the mantra,
"When in doubt, sit them out."
"You want to give them time to
rest and observe them, and definitely
take them to the doctor if you see
any of these symptoms," she says. ■

FALL 2018

41


http://uvahealth.com/concussion http://uvahealth.com/concussion

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia

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