Brain & Memory | Fitness | Prevention
March 16, 2016

Baseline testing aids in treating concussions


Learn the importance of having a baseline concussion test before a head injury ever occurs.


Pre-concussion baseline testing is like a pre-season physical of the brain.

The test enables medical professionals to record an athlete’s normal neurological state, and “Then if the athletes sustains a concussion, we can repeat the test to compare it to his or her baseline,” said Gary S. Solomon, PhD, co-director of the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center.

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that changes the way the brain works. Concussions often are caused by a blow to the head, they but can also occur when the head and upper body are shaken violently. A concussion is not something you can see, and some athletes may not feel symptoms until hours or days after the injury. Most people with concussions recover quickly and fully, but some have symptoms for days, weeks or longer.

Each concussion is treated on an individual basis. Testing includes the computerized ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) test, a balance assessment and an individual neurologic history.

The ImPACT test is a 20-minute computerized test of factors including reaction time, memory and attention span.

It also gathers data on a patient’s physical characteristics, concussion history and neurological profile, including history of disorders that can affect recovery from concussion such as learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, dyslexia and autism.

One exercise asks participants to remember a word list and recall those words later. Another requires participants to press a certain key depending on the shape shown on screen.

Pre-concussion baseline testing aids the process of treating concussions, providing the following benefits:

  • Provides a useful comparison against post-concussion abilities;
  • Gives medical providers knowledge to create personalized plans for recovery and return to play as an athlete returns to his or her baseline;
  • Can allow athletes to return to play sooner since because coaches, athletes, parents and trainers will know goals of recovery.



Learn the top signs of concussion in children here.

Sports Medicine, Teens, Middle Childhood

Pre-concussion baseline testing is offered at three clinic locations: The Vanderbilt Orthopaedic Institute on Vanderbilt’s main campus, the Vanderbilt Bone and Joint Clinic in Franklin, and Vanderbilt Orthopaedics at Mt. Juliet. Call the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center hotline at 615-875-VSCC to schedule an appointment.

One thought on “Baseline testing aids in treating concussions”

  1. judith walter says:

    A GREAT service. Head injury treatment and assessment has been sorely lacking in the past. Having baseline data makes a huge difference in both the assessment of injury and recovery from injury.

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