Schools take steps to prevent long-term head injuries

'Impact' test measures cognitive skills

For most high school football players, winning is the top priority. For Logan Activities Director Steve Hole, head injury safety is.

“For years we’ve worried about sprained ankles and pulled muscles, but we haven’t really considered brain injuries. To me that’s a little backward,” Hole said.

To make sure no athlete gets back on the field before completely recovering from a concussion schools like Logan and Holmen use a tool called Impact that tests mental ability before and after an injury.

“Basically what it does is take you through a series of computerized tests. We’re able to get a baseline score and then if an athlete does sustain a concussion we are able to retake a test and then we are able to compare the scores,” Ryan Hanke, a Holmen High School athletic trainer.

Athletes are tested on memory and reaction time among other things.

“The cognitive part is one of the slowest to come back after sustaining a concussion so the Impact test can help us deem that they’re cognitive post-test has come back to the same as their baseline test,” Hanke said.

The test can help prevent further injury by catching things that might have gone unnoticed.

“A lot of times two three days later you won’t have any symptoms but you take that post-test and there really are some things going on there so it picks up on things that aren’t always detected,” Hole said.

Hole said the Impact test gives him peace of mind that he isn’t sending any student out on to the field without being recovered.

“You know that term they had ‘their bell rung?’ well that doesn’t exist anymore now if you had your bell rung, you’re going to sit, you’re not going to play because it might be minor it might not be but the dangers are there,” Hole said.