Concussion Testing Now Required For All NCHS Athletes
By Alex Haglund
Concussions among student athletes and dealing with them was discussed at the meeting of the NCHS School Board on Monday, June 27. New IHSA rules require the school to form a concussion oversight committee. The board also approved making IMPACT testing mandatory for all student athletes in all sports.
The committee would have the final word on concussion safety for the district and, “if there was an athlete that was being rushed back to play while still showing symptoms,” said NCHS Athletic Trainer Jon Becker, then the committee could act to keep them out of the game.
During the past school year, IMPACT testing through St. Joseph’s Hospital in Breese was an option for students.
IMPACT has students take a baseline cognitive function test, and then during the recovery period following a concussion, take more tests to check their return to normal levels of function.
In the past year, IMPACT was just an option, one which 152 student athletes out of 204 total (75-percent) took part in. Students could also opt out and see their own doctors or general health care professionals as well.
In 2015-2016, there were nine total concussions in student athletes, with four doing IMPACT testing and the other five seeing their own doctors. Average return-to-play times were similar for either option, with students returning to play following IMPACT testing in 13 to 30 days, and following a visit to their own doctors within 11 to 23 days.
Athletes need to be asymptomatic for at least five days following a concussion in order to return to play.
The IMPACT baseline test takes approximately 45 minutes total to take, with as many as 25 students able to take it simultaneously, Becker said. The follow-up testing is then only done in the case of a concussion.
Eventually, Becker stated that he intended to be giving the baseline tests every two years instead of every year (as a freshman and Junior) but for now, all the athletes would need to be tested to get into the system.
After the board sought his opinion, Athletic Director Wayne Harre voiced his support of the new policy, recommending that the board implement the new rule.