What is Concussion Baseline Testing & How Does it Intersect with Technology?
Concussion baseline testing is a way to measure an athlete's neurological function before they are injured. After they are injured, this information (the testing results prior to the concussion) can then be used to compare to their “normal” or baseline function to help diagnose a concussion, track their recovery, and return to play safely.
Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury that can be caused by a blow to the head or body. They can affect a person's memory, concentration, balance, visual, and coordination. Symptoms of a concussion can vary from person to person and can range from mild to severe. The effects of a concussion can last for a person’s lifetime if not treated properly. The sooner treatment begins, the better the recovery for the athlete and, typically, the sooner the athlete can return to play.
Why do Concussion Baseline Testing?
It’s important for athletes because it can help to:
- Diagnose a concussion: If an athlete sustains a head injury, their baseline test results can be used to compare to their post-injury test results. This can help doctors to diagnose a concussion and to determine the severity of the injury.
- Track recovery + Return to Play: Baseline test results can also be used to track an athlete's recovery from a concussion. This can help doctors to determine when it is safe for the athlete to return to play.
- Reduce risk for further injury: Anyone who sustains a concussion is at higher risk for another concussion. Baseline testing can help to reduce the risk of further injury when done in conjunction with athletes taking proactive steps to become stronger, more resilient, and process information faster.
Better than Baseline: Continuous Monitoring (That’s actually fun!)
While traditional baseline testing is a snapshot of the brain health and activity of an athlete at one moment in time, advances in technology provide the opportunity for athletes to keep their baseline testing up to date on a regular (even daily) basis. Our virtual Concussion Monitoring program, NeuroWatch, takes baseline testing a step further by having our overseeing physician assess the data we receive from players when they utilize the Highmark EQ Brain App as a part of the NeuroWatch program.
The Highmark EQ Brain App has been validated in a number of studies and has been shown to be a valuable tool for the diagnosis and management of concussions. It’s was originally developed in partnership with the NHL to be used across the league, and is now being used in professional and amateur sports around the world.
Benefits of using the Highmark EQ Brain App:
- It is self-administered, so athletes can complete the test at their convenience.
- It is quick and easy to use, taking only about 15 minutes to complete the initial intake (it’s gamified, so it’s fun for the athlete).
- It is tailored to specific sports and age groups, ensuring that the tests are appropriate for the individual athlete.
- It is accurate and reliable, having been validated in a number of studies.
- It is affordable, making it a cost-effective option for schools and organizations.
- If you are an athlete, parent, or coach, the Highmark EQ Brain App is a valuable tool for protecting your brain - or your player’s brain - from injury. Ongoing concussion monitoring can help ensure that you or your player receive the best possible care if a concussion is sustained.
The Highmark EQ Brain App is a computerized concussion baseline testing app that can be used by athletes of all ages and sports. The app is self-administered and can be completed in about 10 minutes. It assesses a variety of neurological functions, such as memory, attention, balance, eye tracking, and processing speed. Check out a short video on the app by scrolling down HERE. When an athlete establishes an ongoing baseline by playing the app once a week, our overseeing physician and Brain Health Specialists can easily spot disturbing data points that may indicate a concussion was sustained. The best part about this is we can then reach out to the player and their emergency contact and notify them right away to pursue official diagnosis and treatment (if a concussion is indeed diagnosed).
The Future of Baseline Testing
It’s clear that technology isn’t going anywhere. We can either resist advancements and discoveries or choose to embrace ones that can bring benefit for ourselves or those we love. While some aspects of technology can be detrimental to an athlete, the use of technology in concussion baseline testing is a big win and of huge benefit to the brain health of athletes all across our nation - and the globe. As athletes continue to return to play faster, have concussion symptoms for less time, and expedite recovery due to early recognition of concussions by using virtual, ongoing monitoring, it seems inevitable that this will soon become the standard method of baseline testing for athletes everywhere. Don’t wait to protect your brain from the long-term effects of concussions. Sign up for NeuroWatch today!