Here on Injury Island, we have a whole mess of NHLers suffering from concussions.
Intern Jeff Skinner, Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, Chris Pronger, Mike Richards, Milan Michalek, Marc Staal, Joni Pitkanen, just to name a few.
(We’re really upset about Jeffy thought. Our office is a mess and we just ran out of Mexicola.)
With all talk about concussions, hockey coaches, writers and pundits you might have heard the term “ImPACT Test.”
So what exactly is the ImPACT test? What does it test? Why should we care?
Apologies ahead of time because this post is long and chock full of information, but as true hockey fans, I feel strongly that it is something that we should all be educated about.
Knowledge is power, people.
What the heck is this “ImPACT Test”?
- ImPACT stands for Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing.
- It is a computerized concussion evaluation system developed in the early 1990s.
- It is the most widely used computer-based testing program in the world, and is utilized by high schools, collegiate, and professional sports to assess players who may have a concussion.
- It is a 20-minute test that measures the cognitive functioning in athletes including attention span, working memory, attention time, response variability, non-verbal problem solving, and reaction time.
- The test is administered by an athletic trainer, team doctor, or team psychologist who has completed training in how to administer the test.
- The test should be taken before any injury has occurred, say at the beginning of the season to determine the player’s “baseline” score. The test should be re-administered 24 to 72 AFTER injury/concussion has occurred.
- The team trainer or doctor is able to use this test as part of a more broad process to objectively evaluate a player’s post-injury condition. It helps them to track a player’s recovery with a set of measurable scores and hard data.
- Section 1 requires the athlete to input basic demographic information and descriptive information through a series of easy-to-follow instructional screens.
- Section 2 asks questions about the athlete’s most recent concussion date, hours slept last night, and current medications. Then the athlete is to rate the current severity of 22 concussion symptoms via a 7-point Likert scale (0 being “none” , and 6 being “severe).
- Concussion symptoms evaluated are:
- Numbness 0r tingling
- Balance problems
- Sleeping more than usual
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensitivity to noise
- Feeling slowed down
- Feeling as if ‘in a fog’
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty remembering
- Trouble falling asleep
- More emotional than usual
- Section 3 involves the Neuropsychological tests, and is broken up into 5 modules:
- Word Memory – evaluation of attention and verbal memory
- Design Memory – evaluation of attention and visual recognition memory
- Xs and O’s – measures visual working memory and how fast the player can visually process images
- for those of you who watched HBO’s 24/7 last night, you might have seen Claude Giroux doing this test after his knock to the head from Wayne Simmons.
- Symbol Matching – evaluates visual processing speed, learning and memory
- Color Match – measures impulse control and response inhibition.
- Three Letter Memory – measures working memory and visual-motor response speed
- Section 4 allows the player to input details about their concussion like point of contact, symptoms, description of injury, even info about the type of helmet and mouth guard they were wearing.
- Section 5 is the actually test scores themselves. There are 5 ImPACT test scores that are displayed graphically. Trainers and/or Team doctors can then use this data to determine what additional steps need to be taken with the player.
So all of this is all well and good, but the larger question remains….
Why should we, as hockey fans, care about any of this?
Aside from the obvious reason which is making ourselves more educated and knowledgeable hockey fans, we should care because this test strives to protect players. To protect them from returning to play too soon. To protect their health, their well-being, and most importantly, their quality of life. Guess you could say that the test also protects teams who have made substantial investments in their athletes in the hopes of attaining the penultimate prize. But when it comes down to it, I’d like to believe that no NHL team, owner, or coach with jeopardize a player’s quality of life to win a trophy.
They may be gruff and rough on the outside but on the inside, hockey people are just as warm and fuzzy as the rest of us.
They care about each other and we should care about them.