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Emergency and Trauma

imPACT Concussion Education Program

What is imPACT?

ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is the first, most-widely used, and most scientifically validated computerized concussion evaluation system.

Developed in the early 1990's, ImPACT is a 20-minute test that has become a standard tool used in comprehensive clinical management of concussions for athletes of all ages.

Given the inherent difficulties in concussion management, it is important to manage concussions on an individualized basis and to implement baseline testing and/or post-injury neurocognitive testing. This type of concussion assessment 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.

St. Mary helps bring imPACT to our communities

We at St. Mary have recognized that concussions had become a significant concern with our youth and high school athletes. Very often the athlete, coach or parent does not recognize the signs and symptoms of a concussion or does not recognize the importance of true physical and cognitive rest in the event a concussion occurs.  There is a test called ImPACT that can be used as a diagnostic tool with concussion patients.  It does not provide a conclusive diagnosis, however it is another piece of the puzzle that can be used by physicians and athletic trainers to determine if an athlete is experiencing symptoms from a concussion. A baseline test needs to be administered prior to participation in sport in a controlled environment. The test evaluates things like memory, reaction time and additional cognitive processing.  If a child sustains a concussion, the test is administered again to help determine the child's ability to return to their academic and athletic environment.

This project began at St. Mary with a partnership between our Trauma Team and the Bucks County IU BrainSTEPS team, in addition to several of our physicians. We evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of the current concussion programs being used around our area. We then approached Council Rock and Neshaminy school districts to attend a focus group meeting to determine how our organizations could best support their efforts in regards to concussion prevention, treatment and management. 

We determined a plan of action that included the following:

  • All student athletes participating in contact sports in grades 9-12 would be mandated to attend a concussion education program and complete a baseline ImPACT test. One full day and one half day of time would be provided to each school for each season for testing purposes. St. Mary covers the cost of additional ImPACT tests needed to meet the increased demand for testing.
  • All coaches will be required to participate in a concussion education program. Teachers, counselors, and junior high coaches were also invited to attend.
  • Parent education will be provided during the ImPACT testing sessions and/or at the coach education program.

In order to meet those goals, all of the partners agreed to help provide the educational sessions, proctor the exams for the students and provide educational materials. A significant amount of staffing time has been provided to help support the athletic trainers in the schools.  We are estimating that approximately 700 student athletes will be tested when the last fall session is completed during our initial year of the program.

To partner with St. Mary to bring the imPACT program to your school district, please call Kim Everett, Trauma Prevention Coordinator, at 215-710-2350, or e-mail: keverett@stmaryhealthcare.org

6ABC in Philadelphia features St. Mary partnership with local school districts on imPACT program. Click here to view video.

NBC10 in Philadelphia features how St. Mary, in conjunction with local school districts, helps to educate teens on the dangers of concussions. Click here to view video.

Athletes and coaches act pre-emptively against concussions. See story from the Bucks County Courier Times.