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Concussion management: don't shake it off

Carrollton, GA (March 12, 2013) - Concussions have become big business in the world of football. With 1,700 players in the NFL, 66,000 at the collegiate level and approximately 1.1 million in high schools, athletes and families across the country are eager to cut the risks of brain injury. Certified Athletic Trainers and Physical Therapists can play an important role in concussion detection and intervention. Southern Therapy Services, Inc. has recently purchased a concussion evaluation system called ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) and will offer this service to local high school football players beginning in the Spring. "Testing will be offered to all high school football players and in 2014-2015 other contact sports such as wrestling and soccer will be added," explains Patrick Rothschadl, Certified Athletic Trainer and Director of SportsMedicine at Southern Therapy.

The ImPACT evaluation offers a 20-minute computerized test that measures verbal and visual memory, processing speed, reaction time, and impulse control. The idea behind this software program is that athletic trainers, physical therapists, and physicians can give a baseline test to a healthy athlete, conduct follow-up tests after an injury and then compare the results to help determine when it is safe for the athlete to return to play. "The ImPACT test is the most-widely used and most scientifically validated computerized concussion evaluation system on the market. We are excited to provide this new service to our local athletes," says Rothschadl.

According to the CDC, as many as 3.8 million sports and recreation-related concussions occur each year in the U.S. and the likelihood of suffering a concussion while playing a contact sport is estimated to be as high as 19% per year of play. More than 62,000 concussions are sustained each year in high-school contact sports, and among college football players, 34% have had one concussion and 20%, multiple concussions. Concussions often cause significant and sustained neuropsychological impairments in information-processing speed, problem solving, planning, and memory. These impairments are worse with multiple concussions.

Concussions are a common injury seen in athletes who compete in contact and/or collision sports. Historically, athletes who sustained mild concussions and did not lose consciousness were returned to play as soon as their symptoms cleared, oftentimes on the same day of the initial injury. Today, evidence-based research has changed the way sports medicine professionals diagnose, treat, and manage an athlete with a concussion.

These screenings will be offered free of charge as a community service project to local high school football players through Southern Therapy's non-profit division, The George B. Hamil, Sr. Sports Medicine Foundation. Southern Therapy provides sports medicine services to 10 local high schools, which includes: annual physicals, football sideline coverage, daily injury clinics and a Saturday morning "Bump and Bruise" clinic during the football season. All injury clinics are run in conjunction with the Carrollton Orthopaedic Clinic. For more information regarding ImPACT concussion testing contact Patrick Rothschadl, Certified Athletic Trainer and Director of Sports Medicine or Chris Hamil, Certified Athletic Trainer and Director of Information Technology at 770-834-7436.