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  • Baseline Testing Q & A

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    What is baseline testing?

    Baseline testing is a pre-season exam conducted by a trained health care professional. Baseline tests are used to assess an athlete’s cognitive skills / brain function (including learning and memory skills, ability to pay attention or concentrate, and how quickly he or she thinks and solve problems). The initial assessment is done to determine the athlete’s known state (before any possible injury). Results from baseline tests (or pre-injury tests) can be used and compared to a similar exam conducted by a health care professional during the season if an athlete has a suspected concussion.
    Note: Baseline testing has nothing to do with how “smart” your child is nor is there a pass / fail of the initial test.

    Why are we doing baseline testing?

    Baseline testing is a tool used by doctors to more accurately diagnose suspected concussions and the severity of the concussion. It is also used to help doctors and FPPW determine what the best and SAFEST return to play procedure is for each athlete and each episode.

    Why is this mandatory for 10+ aged football players?

    FPPW is determined to lead the way on SAFETY. FPPW is standardizing concussion (or suspected concussion) protocols as well as return to play protocols. Since no athlete and no concussion is the same, baseline testing is an essential part of these protocols.

    FYI…. LISD has mandated baseline testing for every athlete. When your child graduates from FPPW, they will be tested in 7th grade and above.

    Why is this not mandatory for <10 aged football players?

    Unfortunately, baseline testing is very difficult perform and not as reliable for younger children. If this ever changes, we will likely mandate this for all ages.

    Why is this not mandatory for cheer?

    FPPW will start monitoring cheer and will visit this decision in future years.

    How long will this test take?

    The test should take ~30 mins, but we ask that you show up ~15 mins to make sure everyone is checked in and we can start testing on time.

    How much will this cost?

    FPPW is absorbing the cost of the initial assessment so there is no extra fee for this test.

    Can this baseline be used for suspected concussions not related to FPPW?

    Yes.

    How is baseline testing information used if an athlete has a suspected concussion?

    Results from baseline testing can be used if an athlete has a suspected concussion. Comparing post-injury test results to baseline test results can assist health care professionals in identifying the effects of the injury and making more informed return to school and play decisions.
    Education should always be provided to athletes and parents if an athlete has a suspected concussion. This should include information on safely returning to school and play, tips to aid in recovery (such as rest), danger signs and when to seek immediate care, and how to help reduce an athlete’s risk for a future concussion.

    What should be included as part of baseline testing?

    Baseline testing should include a check for concussion symptoms and cognitive (such as concentration and memory) assessments. Computerized or paper-pencil neuropsychological tests may be included as a piece of an overall baseline test to assess an athlete’s concentration, memory, and reaction time.
    During the baseline pre-season test, health care professionals should also assess for a prior history of concussion (including symptoms experienced and length of recovery from the injury). It is also important to record other medical conditions that could impact recovery after concussion, such as a history of migraines, depression, mood disorders, or anxiety, as well as learning disabilities and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.
    Baseline testing also provides an important opportunity to educate athletes and others about concussion and return to school and play protocols.

    Who should administer baseline tests?

    Baseline tests should only be conducted by a trained health care professional.

    Who should interpret baseline tests?

    Only a trained health care professional with experience in concussion management should interpret the results of a baseline exam. When possible, ideally a neuropsychologist should interpret the computerized or paper-pencil neuropsychological test components of a baseline exam. Results of neuropsychological tests should not be used as a stand-alone diagnostic tool, but should serve as one component used by health care professionals to make return to school and play decisions.

    How often should an athlete undergo baseline testing?

    Baseline computerized or paper-pencil neuropsychological tests may be repeated every 2 years. However, more frequent neuropsychological testing may be needed if an athlete has sustained a concussion or if the athlete has a medical condition that could affect results of the test.