How Concussions are Evaluated and Treated
There are a number of assessment tools and tests that can be utilized to assess and evaluate a concussion injury, however, the most important tool is a baseline test.
Often times baseline testing is part of the pre-participation physical examination. Baseline formal neuropsychological testing should be considered in organized high risk sports such as football, hockey and motocross, and in athletes with a previous history of concussions, who may at increased risk for developing further complex concussions.
In addition to a mental status exam, a balance test, a full neurological physical exam, the concussion doctors at SCOI also use the ImPACT system of computerized neuropsychological testing to evaluate for memory, concentration, attention, visual-motor and reaction time deficits. Currently, the Concussion Center at Southern California Orthopedic Institute is one of only three centers in the greater Los Angeles area with Certified ImPACT Consultants (CIC).
At SCOI, baseline testing with ImPACT is offered at an extremely low cost, or as part of our recent partnership with Well's Fargo "Play It Safe" concussion care insurance program. For more information on "Play It Safe" concussion program, click here.
The most important and successful treatment for a concussion injury is physical and cognitive rest.
Activities requiring physical exertion, concentration, or attention may exacerbate symptoms and delay recovery and therefore should be avoided. This means that the concussed athlete should avoid sports, exercise, video games, computer use and, in some instances, should be held out of school or have academic accommodations made. Once the symptoms have resolved then a standard stepwise return to play protocol may look like:
- No activity — Complete rest until asymptomatic, or symptoms resolve
- Light aerobic exercise such as walking or riding a stationary bike
- Sport specific exercise. For example, skating for hockey; or running for soccer; start light resistance training
- Non-contact training drills and increased resistance training
- After medical clearance: Full contact training
- Game play
If you think you, your child or your athlete has sustained a concussion, please contact Southern California Orthopedic Institute for a concussion assessment or treatment by calling (818) 901-6600.