Baseline Testing

The first, and by far the most important, step in properly managing concussions actually comes before the injury even happens--before the season even starts!

Under the current medical guidelines for a concussion injury, return-to-play decisions are made using a ‘symptom-based’ approach.  However, medical research has repeatedly shown that following a concussion, symptoms are actually the first thing to resolve despite continued deficits in the individuals baseline neurocognitive functioning, balance, reaction time, visual tracking etc. 

The research has also shown that even once the athlete is asymptomatic (no longer feeling any symptoms), this continued neurological dysfunction makes them still extremely vulnerable to suffering a more severe and potentially permanent, or even fatal, brain injury.  Using symptoms alone to guide decisions is also a problem for another reason: athletes frequently withhold information or are untruthful regarding their symptoms in an effort to be allowed to return to play, perhaps unaware of the potential damage another concussion could cause while in this vulnerable state.

Professional sports organizations have been aware of this problem for years and have instituted baseline tests done prior to beginning the season each year, when the athlete is healthy.  These tests evaluate the athlete's:

  • Memory
  • Concentration
  • Visual Processing/Visual Movements
  • Reaction Time
  • Balance and Proprioception
  • Motor Strength
  • Neurocognitive Abilities
Baselines tests are the only objective way of testing whether an athlete has sustained a concussion or determine where they are in the recovery process, since there are no other diagnostic tests ( X-ray, MRI, or CAT scan) that can detect the presence of a concussion.

Thus, when a concussion is suspected, the athlete is examined and retested with the same tests they completed in their baseline testing.  The results are compared to their pre-injury results so that subtle deficiencies can be picked up and the diagnosis can be properly made.  These baseline scores are also used to accurately determine when the athlete has completely returned to their baseline levels and can therefore safely to return to their sport.  

This type of concussion management was previously only available to professional sports organizations and university/college athletic programs.  Pro Motion Physiotherapy along with Complete Concussion Management™ is now bringing this comprehensive level of concussion management to athletes of all ages and sports.

Proper concussion management can only be done if baseline data is available.  


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