Concussion Baseline Test For Kids

Concussion baseline testing is an effective way to compare pre and post-injury brain function. This article aims to cover your questions about concussion baseline testing. Read on to learn why this exam is an essential step before your child participates in sports.

If you would like to know more about concussion baseline tests, contact SportSafe: Pediatric Concussion Clinic in Austin, Texas. Our concussion experts have your child’s best interests in mind, helping them return to sports safely.

Children playing sports after a baseline test.

What is a Concussion Baseline Test for Children?

A baseline concussion test is an exam used to evaluate an athlete’s baseline brain function. The test is done pre-season to establish the normal function of the brain. If your child has a traumatic brain injury, the test can help determine the extent and when it is safe for them to return to sports.

The exam will test cognitive abilities such as memory skills, attention, concentration, and problem-solving. Some baseline tests also include balance testing. The exam can also determine if the athlete is already displaying concussion symptoms.

Types of Baseline Tests

Concussion baseline testing can be done using a questionnaire, either electronically or using pen and paper. Some use a type of video game to test cognitive ability. Commonly used baseline concussion tests include ImPACT, Axon/CogSport, SWAY, BioSway, and SportGait.

Your child’s school will likely provide baseline testing before your child participates in contact sports. Speak with your child’s athletic trainer to see what they offer. If your child’s school does not offer baseline testing, it may be a good idea to get it done through an outside source.

How Does Baseline Testing Work?

Baseline concussion testing is very helpful in determining whether an athlete has a suspected concussion. The test helps a healthcare professional compare your brain function before and after a head injury. A drop in cognitive function or balance may indicate a concussion. The test can be repeated to determine when it is safe for the athlete to return to school or activity.

Why Your Children Should Get a Baseline Test

A baseline concussion test is an effective way to determine the extent of a head injury. It can determine whether your child has a concussion and when it would be safe for them to return to sports.

Children playing soccer after a concussion test.

Who Needs a Baseline Test?

Children who participate in contact sports or who are at risk of a head injury should undergo baseline concussion testing. Your child should get a baseline concussion test before the beginning of each sports season.

How Often Should a Baseline Test Be Done?

It is generally recommended that most aspects of baseline testing be repeated every year to get an accurate idea of normal brain function. Neuropsychological tests can be repeated every 2 years. However, if your child has sustained a concussion or has a medical condition that could affect the results, then testing may be needed more frequently.

How Are the Results Interpreted?

A trained healthcare professional who understands concussions should interpret the results of a baseline exam. It is preferred that a neuropsychologist interprets the paper-pencil or computerized neurocognitive test. All components of the baseline exam should be considered before a child returns to sports or activity.

Baseline Testing at SportSafe

SportsSafe offers 2 cognitive tests. These tests are available as both baseline and post-injury tests. The tests available are ImPACT and SportGait.

ImPACT primarily evaluates cognitive function, specifically visual and verbal memory and reaction time. We’ve been using ImPACT since 2010. It was one of the very first cognitive tests in the market.

As of 2023, SportsSafe is adding SportGait. SportGait was developed in 2020 and includes not only cognitive testing components but also balance testing.

Both baselines can be taken from home and both post-injury tests are available for post-concussion. The post-injury test preference will be discussed with each patient and parent. A comparison of both tests is listed below.

ImPACT Baseline Testing @ Home

Age: 12 and older (4-11 yr testing iPad testing is available in our office)

Test components: cognitive function (Balance assessment available in our office)

Requirements: Personal computer

Length: 25-30 minutes

Cost: $25 (paid via PayPal)

Results: Email after completion for results (provider@sportssafecbb.com)

SportGait Baseline Testing @ Home

Age: 8 and older

Test components: cognitive function and balance assessment

Requirements: Smartphone app

Length: 10 minutes

Cost: $30 (paid via PayPal)

Results: Results will be emailed by SportGait after the test is completed. With questions about test interpretation, email provider@sportssafecbb.com

ImPACT is one of the oldest platforms for cognitive testing, while newer tests like SportGait have emerged in recent years. Regardless of the specific test used, what matters most is that each child has a baseline and can be compared to it after an injury.

To get an ImPACT baseline test, you can purchase it online and complete it at home using a personal computer. Instructions will be provided, and if you need assistance, you can reach out via email.

For SportGait baseline testing at home, you’ll need a smartphone to download the SportGait app. The test takes about 10 minutes, and the results will be emailed to you. These results will also be stored for comparison by SportsSafe in case of a future concussion. Again, if you need help, you can contact the provider via email.

Whether you choose ImPACT or SportGait, the goal remains the same: ensuring your child’s safety and well-being by establishing a baseline and monitoring their recovery if a concussion occurs.

Schedule an Appointment Today

Schedule your appointment with SportSafe: Pediatric Concussion Clinic in Austin, Texas today. Our concussion experts can help you organize a baseline concussion test and keep the results on file. If you need the results, they will be available to diagnose a potential concussion and can assist your child in a safe return to sports. Contact us today!