Baseline Testing: The Key to Effective Concussion Management

Concussion management programs have become a major focus in sports medicine clinics due to the increased public awareness and recognition of concussions. One of the biggest concerns following a concussion is the possibility that an athlete returns to sport before the brain has fully healed and sustains a second concussion, which has the potential to cause irreversible brain damage. Unfortunately, there is no single clinical test that can be done to know when an athlete has fully recovered from a concussion. Furthermore, research has shown that symptom resolution occurs much sooner than brain recovery, which may put athletes at risk for returning to sport too quickly, especially if sport clearance is based solely on symptoms. How are health practitioners, coaches and parents supposed to know when an athlete is ready to return to sport? In order to know when an athlete has fully recovered, the different areas of the brain that could potentially be affected with a concussion must be assessed, including:

  • Balance;
  • Strength;
  • Reaction time;
  • Neurocognitive performance;
  • and visual processing.

These different test results need be compared to pre-injury values in order to know when an athlete has returned to their normal pre-concussion baseline values. As such, the best way to ensure that you return to sport safely following a concussion is to get baseline tested before a concussion even occurs. At Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic we offer the most comprehensive concussion baseline testing of any sports medicine clinic in the Mississauga and Oakville area.

Why choose us for baseline testing?

Most clinics will tell you that they provide concussion baseline testing, but that doesn’t mean they do it properly. Traditional baseline programs focus solely on computerized neuropsychological tests, such as the ImPACT test. Although vital for assessing neurocognitive function, research has shown that neuropsychological tests should not be used in isolation, since they only address one aspect of concussion. In order to properly manage concussions a baseline test must be multidimensional, assessing the full spectrum of concussion outcomes (i.e., balance, reaction time, visual processing, physical capacity). All of the therapists at Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic have undergone extensive training with the Complete Concussion Management program in order to be educated with the most recent research-proven concussion management strategies.

How often should an athlete undergo baseline testing?

As young athletes mature, their baseline scores can change greatly from one year to the next. Therefore, it is recommended that athletes get a baseline at the beginning of each season. Also, if an athlete sustains a concussion during the season, a new baseline will be done following full recovery from the concussion, in case a second concussion occurs during the year.

We are one of the top private clinics in Canada in volume of concussion baseline testing through Complete Concussion Managaement. In addition, we have successfully treated hundreds of sports-related concussions and have an extensive network of specialists, including a sports medicine physician, vestibular physiotherapists, chiropractors and athletic therapists. We offer the highest quality of concussion testing and management in the Mississauga and Oakville area. If you are interested in learning more about our baseline testing for individual athletes or teams, please contact us at 905-849-4576