A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head or body, a fall, or another injury that jars or shakes the brain inside the skull. It is easy to imagine that a concussion results when someone is knocked unconscious while playing sports, but the fact is that concussions can happen with any head injury -- often without a loss of consciousness.
WHAT IS BASELINE TESTING?
Baseline testing is a series of physical and cognitive assessments performed on an athlete prior to suspicion of a concussion in order to recognize any deviation or abnormality from athlete’s presumed healthy brain function. In so testing an athlete, some feel that these may provide a healthcare professional with an objective benchmark (i.e., a "baseline") to compare against, should the athlete sustain a possible concussion. Because outwardly obvious symptoms of concussion will often dissipate days to weeks before the brain has recovered, the purpose of baseline testing is to provide superior evidence to healthcare professionals so that safer return-to-play decisions can be made.
There are many Stouffville-area centres at which a baseline test can be performed on your child. Some of them may even be covered by private health benefits. While baseline testing is not mandatory, the WSMHA feels that any steps you can take to help protect your child are of benefit.
HOW TO RECOGNIZE POSSIBLE CONCUSSION
A forceful bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body that results in a rapid movement to the head might result in a concussion. Observers should be alert for any change in the athlete’s behaviour, thinking, or physical functioning.
WHAT TO DO IF A CONCUSSION IS SUSPECTED
Ensure the athlete stops playing or practising immediately. The affected athlete should be examined by a doctor before returning to practice or play.
REDUCING THE RISK OF CONCUSSION
To reduce the risk of concussion, athletes should ensure that they follow their coach’s rules for safety and the mandated safety regulations of the sport. As well, athletes (and their trainers) should ensure all protective equipment is properly fit and in good repair. Finally, parents and coaches alike should encourage athletes to practise good sportsmanship at all times, with a view to maintaining personal safety and the safety of other players -- including those of opposing teams.