Disrupting the Baseline

Molly Fitzgibbon

Upon entering high school and signing up for a fall sport it was a requirement for all athletes to take the ImPACT test. It seemed very unimportant to me at the time and something I just wanted to complete so I could get out there on the field. Little did I know in a short few months this test would be a necessary and helpful tool in getting diagnosed with a concussion. One crisp fall day of my freshmen year, I was out practicing on the field with my teammates. A simple drill was being executed, but when running full speed with my head down I collided heads with one of my teammates and immediately fell to the ground. When trying to stand I felt nauseous, disoriented and my head was in much pain. After going in to see the trainer, I went to the South Shore Hospital and a CT scan was done. Everything looked normal on the CT scan but I was diagnosed with a concussion and told I could not finish out the season. After hearing this I was directed back to school to take the ImPACT test again, it was amazing how much the results differed from my baseline results in the late summer. The ImPACT test shows multiple aspects of neurocognitive function, including memory, attention, brain processing speed, reaction time, and post-concussion symptoms. Personally, it took me months to recover from the concussion, I struggled with headaches for quite some time. As I was recovering from the concussion, I took the ImPACT test multiple times to see if my score was returning back to the baseline, and sure enough as time passed it was evident that my brain began to heal and my scores inched closer and closer each time to back the level where it would normally function at. Throughout the rest of the season it was evidently noticeable that people treated my concussion very differently than if I had a sprained ankle. There was such a push to get back out there on the field when if I wasn’t ready I could have done more harm to my brain. Throughout my high school career, I watched people get multiple concussions and return back even when they had not been fully healed. Overall, by doing that these people seemed to struggle more with chronic headaches and long term effects of their repeated concussions. I am very thankful that my concussion was on the less severe end and I waited until my test results again matched those of the baseline so my brain was able to heal properly. References: http://www.nebsportsconcussion.org/impact/sports-related-concussion-testing-and-impact-testing-program.html

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