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Our Sports Concussion Program has four distinct and important components to ensure the safety of all athletes:

1. Education

Not all sports-related concussions can be prevented, but the risk may be lessened through proper tackling techniques and by following the rules of good sportsmanship. In addition, our physicians are actively involved in educating athletic trainers, primary care physicians, athletes, and coaches in concussion prevention and recognition.

2. Recognition

The key to the proper management of a sports concussion is early recognition of the concussed athlete. Certified athletic trainers in our high schools are vital in this role. If athletic trainers are not available, coaches, teammates, officials, and parents must be able to recognize the subtle signs of a concussion. However, the proper diagnosis cannot be made until the athlete is evaluated by a physician.

3. Evaluation

Slocum Center's Sports Concussion Program utilizes a variety of tools to evaluate the presence of concussions in athletes. We also monitor the resolution of symptoms to determine when he or she can safely return to school and sports. The evaluation will include a thorough history and neurologic assessment and may also include neuropsychological testing, balance assessment, and communication with parents, athletic trainers, teachers, and coaches.

The neuropsychological test we use to evaluate cognitive function is called ImPACT. Through ImPACT, we are able to evaluate, document, and measure various brain functions, including memory, processing speed, reaction time, and symptoms. With proper medical care and neuropsychological testing, our physicians are able to determine when an athlete has recovered from a concussion and can safely return to sports.

4. Decision

The decision to let an athlete return to playing his or her sport must be made carefully. An athlete who returns too quickly to normal activities, such as school or work, may prolong the recovery time. Returning to sports activity prior to complete resolution of a concussion may put the athlete at an increased risk for another concussion. When deciding upon when an athlete is ready to return to play, neuropsychological testing plays an important role.