An Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) evaluation is a 20- to 30-minute computer-based test that helps measure multiple aspects of cognitive function, such as:
- Attention span
- Working memory
- Sustained and selective attention span
- 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 growing athlete. An ImPACT baseline test is recommended for children, teens and young adults 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 conducted every two years—before a concussion occurs. Baseline testing results will help a sports medicine specialist more accurately determine when an athlete’s cognitive function has returned to normal if or when he or she gets a head injury.
The ImPACT post-injury test should be administered within 72 hours of a concussion to all athletes ages 12 and up. The test can be readministered every seven to 10 days to document improvement of neurocognitive function and should be repeated until the athlete is cleared by his or her doctor.
The ImPACT post-injury test 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 his or her sport.
An athlete can return to his or her 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 child had an ImPACT baseline test and has since had a head injury, call the concussion nurse coordinator at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at 404-785-KIDS (5437) to schedule an ImPACT post-injury test.