1. Baseline Testing
Baseline testing is a pre-season exam conducted by a certified athletic trainer or other trained health care professional. Baseline tests are used to assess an athlete’s balance and brain function as well as the presence of any concussion symptoms. Results from baseline tests (or pre-injury tests) can be used and compared to a similar exam conducted by the certified athletic trainer or health care professional during the season if an athlete has a suspected concussion. The Vereen Center utilizes a variety of assessments as part of its concussion management program:
- ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Test)
- Proprio Balance Test & Postural Control Test
- BESS (Balance Error Scoring System) Test
- King-Devick Concussion Screening Test
- Trail Making Test
- Digit Symbol Substitution Test
Baseline Testing is available to anyone – regardless of age, sport, or affiliation with a Vereen Center partner school. Once an individual is tested, he/she is eligible to utilize the post-injury testing as well as the graduated return-to-play protocol.
2. Post-Injury Evaluation & Testing
If you suspect that you, your child, or your athlete has sustained a concussion, seek medical attention right away so that a proper evaluation can be conducted. If your child is an athlete at one of the Vereen Center’s partner schools, connect with the certified athletic trainer on campus for an evaluation. The certified athletic trainer will use the same tests from the baseline assessment to conduct post-injury testing.
3. Referral to Physician & Physical Therapy
The Vereen Center is partnered with Dr. Kent Posey (Southern Neurology & Neurosciences) for concussion evaluation and management. The physical therapy staff at the Vereen Center also assists with return-to-play rehabilitation. For athletes – those participating in organized sports (at the middle and/or high school level and beyond) and where the injury occurred during sports participation – as well as anyone over the age of 18, the post-injury concussion management protocol should begin with a referral from the athletic trainer or physician to Dr. Kent Posey (Southern Neurology & Neurosciences). Dr. Posey will conduct an in-depth evaluation of each concussion before making recommendations regarding the return to school, sports, or work. Most cases will be referred to the Vereen Center for a physical therapy evaluation and rehabilitation with Brandon Smith, PT, DPT. For non-athletes who are under the age of 18, the post-injury concussion management protocol begins with a referral from the physician to the Vereen Center for a physical therapy evaluation and rehabilitation with Brandon Smith, PT, DPT.
4. Graduated Return-To-Play/Work Protocol
Before an individual may return to sports or activities after a concussion, he/she must complete a graduated rehabilitation program. An outline of the return-to-play (RTP) protocol is provided below. With this stepwise progression, the athlete may proceed to the next level only if asymptomatic at the current level. Generally, each step should take 24 hours so that an athlete would take approximately 1 week to proceed through the full rehabilitation protocol once they are asymptomatic at rest and with provocative exercise. If any post-concussion symptoms occur while in the graduated protocol, then the patient should drop back to the previous asymptomatic level and try to progress again after a further 24-hour rest period.
The certified athletic trainer will use the same tests from the baseline assessment to conduct one final round of post-injury testing once the individual has completed the graduated return-to-play protocol. These scores will be compared to the original baseline scores as well as the immediate post-injury scores. This will give the physician and the athletic trainer the best objective basis on which to make a decision about returning an individual back to full athletic participation or full work duties.
6. Return To Play
Back in the Game. Back to the Outdoors. Back to Work. Once an individual reaches this stage in the concussion management program, he/she should be physically and cognitively back to pre-injury levels of performance.