PERTH AMBOY — Over the past year injuries to professional sports stars like the NHL’s Sidney Crosby, NFL’s Colt McCoy and the untimely death of former NFL star Junior Seau have brought to light the seriousness and prevalence of head injury and concussion in athletics.
In the U.S., the annual incidence of sports-related concussion is estimated at 300,000 and it is estimated that the likelihood of an athlete in a contact sport experiencing a concussion may be as high as 19 percent per season.
With these sobering statistics in mind, the Human Motion Institute at Raritan Bay Medical Center has become a registered provider of ImPACT, a scientifically validated and most widely used computerized concussion evaluation system. The goal of the Human Motion Institute (HMI), a comprehensive musculoskeletal treatment program, is to become a valuable resource for local area schools and their student athletes. In fact, a 20-minute baseline ImPACT test was administered to student athletes on the football, soccer and cheerleading teams this summer; to be followed by next season’s basketball and wrestling teams.
“In meeting with local athletic directors, we identified a need for a local credible concussion diagnosis and management resource,” says Director of Sports Medicine for the Human Motion Institute Dhimant Balar, DO. “ImPACT allows us to provide student athletes with baseline and post-injury neurocognitive testing, helping us to objectively assess conditions and track recovery for the safe return to activity.” Dr. Balar, who is board-certified in both internal and sports medicine, is excited at the prospect of using ImPACT to safely return adolescent athletes to play, avoiding any of the cumulative effects of undiagnosed concussion.
“We are very thrilled to be introducing ImPACT at our school this year,” says Dominec Valentin, ATC, athletic director at Perth Amboy High School. “We are very grateful to the doctors and staff at Raritan Bay Medical Center for helping us to provide the best possible care for our high-impact student athletes. This program will help protect our athletes and bring peace of mind to our trainers, coaches and parents,” says Valentin. “Concussion is a common problem facing schools across the country. ‘When in doubt, sit them out’ has been our model when it comes to the possibility of concussion. Now we have a real tool to assess the players’ condition both before and after a possible concussion, so there is no gray area.”
Concussions are a disturbance in brain function that occurs following either a blow to the head or as a result of the violent shaking of the head. “Although the majority of athletes who experience a concussion are likely to recover, an unknown number may experience chronic cognitive and neurobehavioral difficulties related to recurrent injury,” says Dr. Balar. Among the symptoms experienced are chronic headaches, fatigue and difficulty sleeping, the complete set of symptoms is referred to as Post-Concussion Syndrome. In some cases, such difficulties can be permanent and disabling.
“Our goal is always to bring our athletes back safely to play,” concludes Valentin. “Thanks to the Human Motion Institute and the ImPACT program, we’re better prepared to make this our school’s safest season yet.”
ImPACT stands for Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing and was developed in the early 1990’s by Drs. Mark Lovell and Joseph Maroon. It is a computer-based test that has become a standard tool used in comprehensive clinical management of concussions for athletes of all ages. ImPACT measures multiple aspects of cognitive functioning, such as attention span, memory and reaction time.
For more information about HMI or concussion related services call Nurse Navigator Clare Schuld at 1-732-324-4837. HMI’s sports medicine program provides comprehensive, high-quality and individualized orthopedic care for student, amateur and professional athletes of all ages.
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