Concussion Testing Important for Non-Athletes, Too

The Center for Disease Control estimates that over two million concussions occur each year.  With private citizen concussions becoming more prevalent, how concussion management is handled is a relevant question on the public’s mind.

Dr. Jonathan French, a neuropsychologist at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion program, says the first step toward properly identifying and treating concussions or head trauma is baseline testing.

Used primarily for collegiate level athletes involved in contact sports, baseline testing is used to establish a patient’s cognitive function while he or she is not injured. Baseline testing can also benefit those who are not involved in contact sports.  Private citizens who have not completed a test are compared to other patients, typically athletes, who have a baseline established.

Testing for concussions has also improved in many areas.  Before patients were simply asked how they felt; now there is a multitude of tests that can detect the injury.  One common form of concussion testing is the ImPACT test.  The ImPACT test is a computerized exam that measures a patient’s symptoms,  verbal and visual memory, processing speed, and reaction time.

The UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program located in Pittsburgh treats all injuries the same, no matter if the patient is an athlete or a private citizen.  The main difference between sports injuries and others is that athletes typically are monitored throughout their recovery.

With proper concussion management all injuries will slowly improve.  Advances in detection and treatment of head injuries are now more advanced than ever before, for both private citizens and professional athletes.