A new test being administered at East Peoria Community High School has the potential to save the lives of student athletes.
This year, varsity boys basketball players took the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 2 test prior to the start of the season.
The test, administered by trainer Sara Silver of Great Plains Orthopaedics, serves as a baseline test to show a student’s normal functioning. If a concussion is suspected, the SCAT 2 is administered again.
“I will perform the whole test on all of the athletes and then I have a baseline so if they do get hit in the head I can go back and look at the test I’d given them before and then perform that test again and see where they compare,” Silver told District 309 School Board members at the Jan. 23 meeting.
“This allows Sara to rule out any signs or symptoms of a concussion,” said EPCHS athletic director Brad Dubois. “If any are found, the athlete sits (out) until all symptoms are gone. Then, they must sit for a 24-hour period once they are free of symptoms. Then it is a five day progression into full activity.”
After a concussion, athletes are advised to rest and avoid strenuous activity, alcohol, sleeping pills and anti-inflammatory medicine like aspirin. Concussed individuals should not drive or participate in any sport until cleared by a medical professional.
Silver administers the SCAT 2 on a one-on-one basis with each student athlete.
The test can be used for athletes age 10 and older. It includes a symptom evaluation and a cognitive assessment with basic questions such as, “What month is it?” and “What is the day of the week?” The administrator reads a list of words and asks the athlete to repeat as many words back as possible, testing memory. Concentration is tested when an athlete hears a list of numbers and is asked to repeat them backwards. The same is tested when the athlete is asked to recite the months of the year backwards.
Athletes are also tested on balance and coordination.
At the meeting, board member Garth Knobeloch asked Silver why concussions seem to be more prevalent today than in years past.
“I think concussions are just recognized more now,” Silver responded. “Before, people would just think of a headache as just a headache. Now we look at it as the sign of a concussion. And it’s something that we don’t take lightly. Sometimes they clear up in 10 minutes, sometimes it takes two or three days.”
Silver said after “getting your bell rung” it’s important to not ignore possible symptoms, which include headache, dizziness, memory loss, nausea, neck pain, sensitivity to light and/or noise, confusion and balance issues.
While only boy’s basketball players were tested this year, Dubois said the district plans to pre test all EPCHS student athletes next year. However, he said any student athlete with any type of head injury will take the SCAT 2 and be evaluated for a concussion.