Thursday, June 30, 2011

Metro Spirit 6-30

With a new collective bargaining agreement seemingly only a matter of months—maybe even weeks—away, soon we can relax and finalize our fall plans around watching our favorite NFL teams in whatever fashion we please. Once those papers are signed, they eliminate the marquee storyline of the off-season and solve all the awkward tension between players, coaches and front office personnel. What is doesn’t eliminate however, is a problem that can’t be solved with paper and pen. Concussions.

“You can get a concussion in any sport,” says Robert Leslie, Senior Athletic Trainer at Sports Medicine Associates (SMA). “Recently we had a baseball player playing in a summer league game; he got tripped up turning a double play, fell on his head and got a bad concussion. It can happen anywhere, anytime.”

The game is simply too fast—and not just in the NFL, in general, athletes presently are bigger, faster and stronger than they have ever been. This coupled with intense specialization in each sport. As fans we reap the benefits of their labor and skill and are left breathless as they shatter records and confound pre-existing physical limitations.

For a long time, the easiest way to handle concussions was primarily in preventive methods. The brain is something of a wonder to try and navigate objectively, so coaching a kid to not lead with his helmet on a tackle was the easiest way to cut down on head injuries. But things are going to happen that are sometimes unavoidable, and with all the money and research thrown towards post-concussive assessment these days, that trickle down effect has helped bring one of the preeminent concussion testing programs to the CSRA, and it’s now available exclusively at the SMA Sports Concussion Center.

ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is the first, most-widely used, and most scientifically validated computerized concussion evaluation system. It’s used by the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and many colleges and high schools throughout the country. The test itself does not take place of the evaluation from the physician, but supplements and acts as a starting point and early indicator as to where the athlete was before the injury and where they currently stand in comparison to their baseline test results.

Every individual displays the symptoms of a concussion differently, thus creating a dangerous guessing game with parents and coaches that can range from the athlete being severely concuss, or just having his “bell rung.”

“It gives us a more objective way to determine if they’re still suffering from the symptoms,” says Dr. Robert Gambrell, a physician at SMA, “We’re worried about sending them back too early. The concern arises from a condition called ‘Second Impact Syndrome’ (SIS)—which is when someone returns to play while they are still suffering from the concussion, leaving their brain exposed to severe neurological damage caused by even a small amount of trauma to the head.”

The ImPACT program consists of taking the baseline test, physician evaluation and follow-up testing to determine when the athlete can safely return to play.

If you have any questions about ImPACT, or if you would like to schedule your baseline testing, call Sports Medicine Associates at (706) 210-PLAY (7529), or visit their website at

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