New program to help identify concussions in student athletes - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

New program to help identify concussions in student athletes

A new process can help detect concussions in athletes. (Source: WMBF News) A new process can help detect concussions in athletes. (Source: WMBF News)

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - McLeod Sports Medicine said treatment of sports related concussions is an ever-changing process.

But now, thanks to a new software, that process can be made easier.

The software is called ImPACT, which stands for Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing.

"Moving forward, we're able to test the entire age spectrum, anywhere from a 5-year-old who hurt themselves in rec league soccer or volleyball or football or you name the sport, all the way up to a 60-year-old umpire on the sideline." said Adam Ploeg, the director of sports medicine with McLeod.

Ploeg said the beauty of the ImPACT test is that it just feels like playing games, but is actually used to test brain function after a person takes a serious blow to the head.

He added getting a head injury is not like breaking a bone or tearing a ligament, in that spotting a concussion can be much harder and very dangerous if gone unnoticed.

"There's an influx of potassium and calcium that flood the brain and cause some of the symptoms that an individual feels. With these symptoms in particular, it presents in terms of a headache, maybe it's ringing in your ears, maybe it's sensitivity to light, dizziness, nausea, vomiting," Ploeg said. "It can be presented in a myriad of symptoms, but any of those symptoms can be a potential cause for concern."

High school athletes and younger can be diagnosed with concussions through the ImPACT test by trainers. However, several steps have to be taken before they can be cleared to play and only after a licensed physician gives the go-ahead.

"If you're getting to the point where it's taking two months, three months, to recover from a concussion, then we're definitely starting to have that conversation with the athlete to say it might be time to change sports, not leave sports, but change the sport that you're involved in for your long term well being." said Ploeg.

He said doctors are still studying the long-term effects of brain injuries, but it is important that parents and athletes understand the consequences that concussions can have down the road.

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