What is an ImPACT evaluation?
The ImPACT evaluation is a 20- to 30-minute computer-based test that measures multiple aspects of cognitive function, such as:
- Attention span
- Working memory
- Sustained and selective attention time
- Nonverbal problem solving
- Reaction time
- Response variability
Who should get an ImPACT evaluation?
Since symptoms, responses and recovery patterns vary by person, it’s helpful to know what “normal” cognitive function is for each athlete. Baseline testing is recommended for athletes who play contact sports such as football, lacrosse, soccer and basketball. It is also recommended for athletes who participate in high-impact sports like cheerleading and gymnastics. Baseline testing should be scheduled before the season starts, before a concussion occurs. This baseline information will help more accurately determine when their cognitive function has returned to “normal” if/when they do get a concussion.
After a concussion
The ImPACT evaluation should be administered within 72 hours of a concussion to all athletes ages 12 and up. The test can be re-administered every seven to 10 days to document improvement of neurocognitive function and should be repeated until the athlete is cleared by his doctor.
The ImPACT evaluation is a tool that helps determine when an athlete has recovered. However, it should not be used as the only consideration to determine when it’s safe for an athlete to return to their sport.
An athlete can return to their sport when:
- All symptoms (physical and cognitive) are gone
- Testing shows that cognitive function has returned to “normal”
- A medical professional trained in the management of concussions provides written clearance
If your athlete had a baseline ImPACT evaluation and has since had a head injury, call our concussion nurse coordinator at 404-785-KIDS (5437) to schedule a post-concussive test.