Tag Archives: concussions

Breakin’ It Down: ImPACT Testing

15 Dec

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.)

We miss you. Come back soon. We're thirsty.

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.
The Test Itself
The test has a total of 5 sections.
  • 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:
      • Headache
      • Nausea
      • Vomiting
      • Drowsiness
      • Numbness 0r tingling
      • Dizziness
      • 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
      • Irritability
      • Sadness
      • Nervousness
      • Other
  • 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.

Good work, Captain Duck.

30 Jun

Yesterday, seven-time All-Star (and former U of Maine Black Bear) Paul Kariya retired.

Kariya had 402 goals and 989 points in 989 career games and played for 15 years.

He probably could have played longer…were it not for that pesky little villain all hockey fans HATE…the concussion.

Kariya didn’t play at all last season as he attempted to recover and his announcement yesterday got me thinking – Is Marc Savard next?

Got to get you into my life.

I perish the thought but the harsh reality is that it could happen.  But I don’t wants it to happen!  

With every fiber of my body I want Savvy to come back in October refresh, ready, and symptom-free to take his place with the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins.

But I just don’t know if that is going to happen.  And that makes me one sad panda.

Pants knows how I’m feeling about all this.  She’s patiently waiting for Sidney to recover, leave the comfy confines of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia and make his way back to da ‘Burgh and the love fest that is the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.

"And this trophy was from when I won scored 3,629 goals for my Midget AAA team..."

Until then, we’ll just wait all night…by this hedge…

Sad Panda Bear

25 Jan

Today is failing at life.

First off, it snowed this morning just in time for my morning commute to work.  (Me + slippery snow – no morning caffeine = grumpy) We are supposed to get 8-12″ more tomorrow night and the Bruins got shut out by the LA Kings last night. Then I get to work and read on http://www.boston.com that Marc Savard has been diagnosed with his second concussion in 10 months and will not play.

Thanks, Hockey Gods.  Way to add more rock salt to my wounds.

OW!...quit it...

Savard took a hit from former teammate Matt Hunwick on Saturday in the Bruins’ 6-2 win over the Avalanche.  While this latest concussion is deemed “moderate”, this news still leaves me feeling sad and frankly worried for Savvy’s future. I worry that this is the beginning of the slow, downward spiral of yet another talented player’s hockey career.

One very sad Canadian Panda. It breaks my heart.

Many an NHL superstar has been felled by this dreaded injury (i.e. the Lindros Brothers, Pat Lafontaine, Matthew Barnaby, Keith Primeau, Adam Deadmarsh, Steve Moore, etc, etc.) and while the league has taking measure to lessen these injuries and punish those who intent to injure, the fact remains that concussions will always be a part of the game.

Until they encase everyone in bubble wrap and staple fluffy pillows to the boards.

"Mommmmmmmmm, can I play hockey NOW?"

Not likely, folks.  Hockey is a contact sport – a rough, physically demanding game where 200 lb men skate at top speed straight into each other, sometimes with enough force to shatter glass.  Insane, right?  But we love it all the same.

I hope that Marc can recover soon.  I hope he can rejoin his team (who have been playing amazingly well as of late.  Last night’s hiccup excluded, of course.) and help them as they push toward the playoff.  I sincerely, with all my heard, hope that his career as one of the preeminent NHL centermen is not over.

Because that would also make me one very sad panda.

We want less “sad” and more of this please…

Happy PANDA!