Before the start of seven team’s season they participate in ImPACT testing. This test is performed to consult to if an athlete suffers a concussion during their season.
“Our contact sport athletes: [girls and boys] basketball, football, wrestling and [girls and boys] soccer do ImPACT testing. It’s based solely on their performance alone it’s not compared to anybody else. If their scores are similar or better to the scores they took at the baseline then we know their brain is most likely ready to return to to activity,” Stiles said.
This year, the volleyball team has also been added to the list of teams that take the test. This baseline has become almost vital to diagnosing and recovering from concussions since there has never been a quantifiable method available before.
“Concussions are diagnosed by signs and symptoms. It’s not something that you can take an MRI scan of. It goes by what do we see as the medical professionals and what people report to us on how they’re feeling after a traumatic brain incident. So, the test gives us tangible data to go off of how the kid is progressing or not progressing and how they feel immediately after having an episode,” Stiles said.
However, Gibson believes that she received lesser quality treatment due to the fact that cheerleading does not participate in ImPACT testing.
“I mean it felt a little different just because there wasn’t much structure to how I went through things. I’d heard from all my friends [on the football team] they do testing before the season even starts to compare it to if they get [a concussion] during the season. So, there’s nothing to compare my scores to. It’s all based on how I feel and so I was just basically going off nothing,” Gibson said.
Since the number of concussions has increased, Stiles believes that ImPACT testing should be extended to the cheerleading team as well.
“The research is showing a high incidence of concussions in the sport of cheerleading and especially when we have the competitive cheer to where they’re doing more tumbling,” Stiles said.
Although ImPACT Testing is a positive step to finally solving the mystery of concussions, there are also some drawbacks to using this test.
“The ImPACT [Test] is a double edged sword. You can do really well on your baseline and then never get back to that,” Stiles said