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Published on Apr 23, 2012 by Edgar Snyder

UPMC Concussion Program Continues to Grow

concussions

In 2000, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) launched their Sports Medicine Concussion Program to provide concussion research, assessment, treatment, rehabilitation, and education. The program now sees over 13,000 patients a year.

At the core of its program is a cognitive assessment known as Immediate Post-concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT), a 20-minute test used to measure brain processing, speed, memory, and visual motor skills. The ImPACT test evaluates athletes' mental capacities before suffering a concussion to establish a reference point, and then compares it to tests administered after a concussion. This determines the severity of the concussion and how much progress has been made toward recovery.

While the ImPACT test was originally only used by the Steelers, whose neurosurgeon helped develop it, its use has spread to all professional football and hockey teams, most college and pro teams, and around 6,000 high school sports programs. This makes it one of the most widely-accepted scientific tools for evaluating athletes after concussions.

The ImPACT test has also allowed doctors and researchers to determine which athletes take longer to recover from concussions. So far they have discovered prolonged recovery periods in the following individuals:

  • Children
  • People susceptible to migraines
  • Athletes who report post-concussion symptoms like headache, dizziness, nausea, and sensitivity to light or noise
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"Concussion program beings new phase." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. April 16, 2012.
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