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About the Program

Overview

The Sports Concussion Program is designed for athletes who have had a concussion and need to have a "return to play" program. Most patients we see are young school athletes who participate in contact sports such as football, hockey, skiing, and soccer. However, this program is open to athletes of any age who have had a concussion and want a defined assessment and management plan for return to sports. We are also happy to see athletes who want to have baseline testing completed in case a future concussion occurs. These test results will serve as a benchmark against which to measure the impact of any future concussion. The program is not for someone who has had a serious traumatic brain injury.

There are two stages to the services offered through the Sports Concussion Program: baseline testing and post-concussion management.

Baseline testing

Experts recommend that athletes who regularly participate in contact sports are highly encouraged to have baseline testing done prior to the start of a sports season. Baseline testing includes neurocognitive and balance tests and should be done once every two years. If you would like baseline testing, you will come to Dartmouth-Hitchcock to meet with one of our concussion specialists. This visit will include three components: concussion history, balance assessment, and neurocognitive testing. To assess your balance we utilize the Balance Error Scoring System which is a simple and easy assessment that is conducted in the office. The neurocognitive test is called ImPACT™ and it measures your verbal memory, visual memory, processing speeds, and reaction times. The results of these tests will be saved in a secure database so they are available in the unfortunate event you get a concussion. The appointment for this testing will take about one hour and costs $15.00 per athlete which covers the cost of the ImPACT™ baseline testing. We are also available to come to schools for consultation or to conduct baseline testing with a group in a computer lab.

Post-concussion management

If you have a suspected concussion, we would like to see you at least 24 hours after the concussion occurred, preferably no more that one week after the concussion. This time period will allow your symptoms to subside slightly and perhaps you will regain back some of your functions. Until your appointment, you should rest, physically and mentally. Be sure to write down your symptoms until you see our team. Please note that misconceptions such as staying up all night are untrue and can actually be harmful. Be sure to limit activities that cause symptoms, such as headaches or dizziness. This includes refraining from activities such as video games, computer work, television, or texting if they cause your symptoms to get worse. Try to keep a regular schedule and get a full night of sleep.

On your appointment date, you will come in for a physical exam by one of our specialists. He or she will ask you about your concussion history, any changes you've noticed in your daily functions like sleeping, eating, or your moods, and what symptoms you've been experiencing. They will also want to know what activities seem to bring on the symptoms. At that time, you will do your neurocognitive and balance testing to see if there is any change from your baseline scores for visual, verbal, cognitive, balance, and behavioral functions. If you do not have baseline testing results in your file, your results will be compared to standard scores for people in your age category. Your tests results will be read immediately by one of our specialists. The combined results of your physical exam and neurocognitive testing will guide our plan of care for your concussion. After all of the results have been analyzed you will meet with one of our specialists to discuss your plan of care. You may also be asked to stop doing physical and mental activities that cause your symptoms to reappear.

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