Blogs and Commentary

posted 04.26.2011 at 11.04 a.m. by Corey McLaughlin

MLL Adds Required Baseline Concussion Test

Major League Lacrosse has joined the list of sports leagues and organizations paying extra attention to head injuries. The outdoor professional league announced Monday it is requiring for the first time players take part in the widely-used ImPACT neurocognitive test system that helps determine players' ability to return to play after suffering a concussion.

ImPACT, an acronym for the Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing system, is used in some form by the four major pro sports leagues and many colleges and high schools. US Lacrosse also has a strategic alliance with ImPACT.

MLL players will be required to take a baseline, 20-minute computerized test before the season. The test measures memory skill and speed, and visual motor skills through an infinite number of test exercises featuring designs, words or colors.

If a player suffers a suspected concussion during the season, the test is recommended to be administered again 1-3 days after the injury. The players' performance and symptoms are compared to the players' baseline test to help determine post-concussion status and if or when it is safe to return to play.

Dr. Carl Nissen, Director of Elite Sports Medicine at Connecticut Children's Medical Center, will examine players' post-concussion results. In a press release, official MLL physician Dr. Kevin Plancher said the league is able to provide use of ImPACT testing for a "nominal fee" because of Nissen.

"We now realize the catastrophic consequences of repeat concussions before the brain gets a chance to heal," said Plancher, who joined the Long Island Lizards as team physician in 2009. "The only way to heal is through both physical and mental rest, without which you can have life-altering problems with depression and the inability to think and process information."

The test is not solely responsible for a player's post-concussion evaluation, Plancher said, but "must be taken along with professional attention from a doctor, evaluating the patient's medical history, a physical exam and determining their strength, coordination and balance."

"The beauty of ImPACT is that mandating baseline tests becomes invaluable because the test has the ability to predict people's recovery if you can have them take the test before injury and after injury," Nissen said in the release.