ImPACT Testing

What is ImPACT?
ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is currently the most scientifically verified and widely used computerized concussion evaluation test available on the market. ImPACT provides trained clinicians (i.e., your school’s athletic trainer) with neurocognitive assessment tools and services that have been medically accepted as state-of-the-art best practices — as part of determining safe return-to-play decisions.

That being said, the ImPACT test is NOT a diagnostic tool. It is not designed to definitely determine if a student-athlete has sustained a concussion. What it is designed to do is compare a student-athlete’s normal, baseline neurocognitive measures to the same post-injury measures in an attempt to gauge the student’s progression back to a normal, baseline neurocognitive state. One thing to note, however, is that these test scores are measured at a resting state.  Just like your heart, your brain function changes when you exercise. Concussion symptoms and neurocognitive deficits can often reappear during exertion even after resting scores have returned to normal. This is why a normal post-injury ImPACT score does not clear an athlete to return to play. More information on this can be found in the Concussion Information section under Athletic Training.

What does ImPACT measure?
Working memory
Response variability
Non-verbal problem solving
Reaction time
Sustained and selective attention span
Neurocognitive processing speed
Verbal and visual memory
Severity of concussion-related symptoms

Why have Zeeland East & West High Schools decided to use ImPACT?
In recent years, concussions have become a national topic of debate for all levels of sport. From Pop Warner to the NFL, the lack of appropriate recognition testing and management protocols have been intensely scrutinized by both the media and the scientific and medical communities alike. Since this modern enlightenment began, thousands of scientific research articles have been published in an attempt to broaden our understanding of concussions. From these articles, several physical and cognitive tests have been developed, one of which being ImPACT. With more than 215 peer reviewed and 145 independent studies, ImPACT has the largest database of clinical research on concussion management, validating ImPACT’s model. Further, ImPACT’s comprehensive normative data includes more than 75,000 (and growing) results, which provides reliability and validity of testing.

How is ImPACT testing used at Zeeland East & West High Schools?
All high school student-athletes are required to have a baseline test prior to trying out and/or participating in a sport. Athletes in high school need to be baseline tested every two academic years to accommodate the many changes their developing brain is making. Any athlete who sustains a concussion will be tested again after injury while symptoms are present and again after all symptoms have resolved. We want to see the student-athlete’s test scores return to at- or near-baseline levels before they begin their graded exertional return-to-play protocol.

Again, ImPACT is not a standalone test for diagnostic or return-to-play consideration. It is a tool in the tool box, along with a multitude of other subjective and objective measures, for the athletic trainer and physicians who oversee head injury cases to use in determining the appropriate course of action for each case.

Where can I find more information on ImPACT?

Click here for the link to ImPACT’s website.