PDS Hopes to Keep Athletes Safe With the ImPACT Test

Bridget Kane, Staff Writer for Spokesman

Many sports played at Princeton Day School and elsewhere are contact sports. In such activities, there is always the possibility of injury from interactions with other players. Athletes leave everything out on the field. A collision can lead to a concussion, which is a temporary unconsciousness, caused by a head injury As athletes get older and play against stronger competition, concussions occur more frequently. Symptoms include severe headaches, sensitivity to light, blurry vision, sleep disturbances, fainting, dizziness, and much more. However, how does one really know if an athlete has a concussion and what can PDS do to help diagnose it?

According to PDS Athletic Trainer Hillery Lamb, our school works hard to keep our athletes healthy. Students at PDS are tested in grades six, eight, and ten as a baseline with The ImPACT Test. The ImPACT Test is a battery of neurocognitive tests that reveal the effects of a concussion in students and athletes. Ms. Lamb explained, “Should they suffer a concussion, we re-test them again once they have been cleared by their doctor. We then compare their baseline test to their post-concussion test, to determine if they are ready to return to full academics and/or begin the return to play progression back into sports.” The test itself is about 25 minutes long, taken on a computer at PDS. It includes different tactics of memory, reaction speed, and common sense. When asked why this test is so important and why the school does not instead send its students to special doctors, Ms. Lamb responded, “It is important because it gives us another tool to use when examining concussions, and it helps, along with other things, to determine if an athlete is ready to begin the return to play progression.” The test by itself is not a way to diagnose. It is important for the PDS training staff to also back up the doctor’s conclusion, and for the athlete to be 100 percent recovered before returning to his or her academics and sports.

The ImPACT Test is not the only means of ensuring someone has a concussion. Ms. Lamb explained, “The diagnosis of a concussion can only come from a medical doctor. Henry Minarick, another PDS athletic trainer, and I make referrals to doctors if an athlete comes to us experiencing concussion- like symptoms, and recalls an instance where they may have possibly sustained a concussion (i.e. a blow to the head, a hard hit). We only use the ImPACT test as a tool to help in the return to play.”