Sport Science and
About the Center
Visit our information website: www.knowconcussion.org.
The Center for Sports Concussion at Idaho State University serves the mission of the Department of Sport Science and Physical Education by providing educational outreach and resources to sport administrators, coaches, and parent groups throughout Idaho and also by facilitating outreach on concussion identification and management to school and athletic programs. Through the Center for Sports Concussion’s website, www.knowconcussion.org, coaches can also complete a free online certification course in concussion identification and management.
The Center also encourages the use of and facilitates free neurocognitive testing (baseline and post-concussion) to youth sport athletes throughout Eastern Idaho (by appointment and/or physician referral). The Center is funded through grants from the Walmart Foundation and the Idaho Community Foundation. It is directed by Caroline Faure, EdD, ATC, Professor of Sport Science and Physical Education at ISU.
Background on Concussion
In the United States, the annual incidence of sports-related concussion is estimated at 300,000. Estimates regarding the likelihood of an athlete in acontact sport experiencing a concussion may be as high as 19% per season. Although the majority of athletes who experience a concussion are likely torecover, an as yet unknown number of these individuals may experience chronic cognitive and neurobehavioral difficulties related to recurrent injury. Such symptoms may include chronic headaches, fatigue, sleep difficulties, personality change (e.g. increased irritability, emotionality), sensitivity to light/noise, dizziness when standing quickly, and deficits in short-term memory, problem solving and general academic functioning. This constellation of symptoms is referred to "Post-Concussion Syndrome" and can be quite disabling for an athlete. In some cases, such difficulties can be permanent and disabling. In addition to Post-Concussion Syndrome, suffering a second blow to the head while recovering from an initial concussion can have catastrophic consequences as in the case of "Second Impact Syndrome," which has led to numerous deaths over the past decade including at least two in Idaho.
Athletes that are not fully recovered from an initial concussion are significantly vulnerable for recurrent, cumulative, and even catastrophic consequences of a second concussive injury. Such difficulties are prevented if the athlete is allowed time to recover from concussion andreturn to play decisions are carefully made. No athlete should return to sport or other at-risk participation when symptoms of concussion are present and recovery is ongoing. In summary, the best way to prevent difficulties with concussion is to manage the injury properly when it does occur.
The recognition and management of concussion in athletes can be difficult for a number of obvious reasons. First, athletes who have experienced a concussion present with a wide variety of symptoms. Although the classic symptoms of loss of consciousness, confusion, and/or memory loss may be present in some athletes with mild concussion, there may or may not be obvious signs that a concussion has occurred. Symptoms of concussion are typically quite subtle and may go unnoticed by the athlete, team medical staff, or coaches. Second, management guidelines for concussed athletes are unclear to many, even to many in the medical profession. Some rely on the use of grading scales (i.e. grade 1, 2 or 3 concussion) based on the severity and length of the symptoms. These is not and evidence-based practice and there is little to no scientific data to support those arbitrary scales. Third, while traditional neurological and radiologic procedures, such as CT, MRI, and EEG, are helpful in identifying more serious concerns (e.g. skull fracture, hematoma, contusion), they are not useful in identifying the effects of concussion. Such tests are typically unremarkable or normal, even in athletes who have sustained a severe concussion. The reason for this issue is that concussion is a metabolic rather than structural injury. Therefore it becomes imperative toalso administer functional testing (such as ImPACT neurocognitive testing).Finally, coaches, athletes and parents of young athletes may not fully understand the potential consequences of concussion and often minimize or deny symptoms so the athlete can return to play.
Given these outlined concerns and inherent difficulties in managing concussion, individualized and comprehensive management of concussion is optimal. At the forefront of proper concussion management is the implementation of baseline and/or post-injury neurocognitive testing. Such evaluation can help to objectively evaluate the concussed athlete's post-injury condition and track recovery for safe return to play,thus preventing the cumulative effects of concussion. In fact, neurocognitive testing has recently been called the "cornerstone" of proper concussion management by an international panel of sports medicine experts.
Neurocognitive testing measures player symptoms, is computer administered, and can assist physicians and other licensed health care providers in making difficult return to play decisions. Reviewed, tested and validated by a number of sports medicine professionals, ImPACT permits individual and group administration and test data are automaticallystored in an online server - permitting easy, password-protected access. Results can also be e-mailed or faxed to medical professionals to help them in their diagnoses and prognoses of concussive injuries. ImPACT test data can help physicians and other licensed health care providers make objective-based decisions regarding the athletes’ safe return to play.
Publications and Resources
First Monday: Idaho State University Forum featuring Caroline Faure, October 2011.
Dr. Caroline Fauré, Idaho State University sports science professor and a nationally recognized researcher in the field, discusses the danger of athletic concussions. The majority of Idaho schools do not have a designated athletic trainer at events, thus placing the decision regarding concussion management on the shoulders of coaches. If your child or grandchild plays a sport you won't want to miss this program.
Download Program (31.22 minutes)
ISU Headlines. Study: Some Coaches Lack Concussion Awareness, October 2007.
Many Idaho high school football coaches are unfamiliar with the signs and symptoms of concussion and are inexperienced in managing instances of mild concussion, concludes a study by Caroline Faure, Ed.D., Idaho State University professor in the Department of Sports Science and Physical Education.
Caroline Faure, Ed.D.
Phone: (208) 282-4085