Education

GMC is taking care of Gwinnett”s high school athletes

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In the United States, more than two million sports-related concussions happen each year, and about 85 percent of those concussions go unrecognized.

Gwinnett Medical Center”s Sports Medicine Program is committed to improving the standard of care for athletes suffering concussions. Since 2008, GMC has provided Gwinnett and North Fulton high schools with a new tool to manage head injuries: the Immediate Post-concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing program, or ImPACT. The program is designed to provide a framework to safely return athletes with concussions to academics and athletics without risk of long-term damage.

GMC is the first hospital in Georgia to offer this program to an entire county, and they did it in the largest school district in the state. Under the direction of a team athletic trainer or physician, the athlete usually takes the ImPACT test several times in the days following injury to help determine recovery progress, to demonstrate when the athlete”s neurocognitive function has returned to pre-season scores and to determine when it is safe for the athlete to return to contact sports.

The ImPACT program has been designed after approximately 10 years of university-based, grant-supported research. It is currently the most widely utilized computerized program in the world and has been implemented effectively for high school, collegiate and professional athletes alike.

Although the majority of athletes who experience a concussion are likely to recover, some experience head trauma and other difficulties related to frequent injuries, including chronic headaches, fatigue, sleep difficulties, personality change and short term memory loss. The plethora of symptoms is referred to as “Post-Concussion Syndrome” and can be quite disabling for an athlete. In addition to Post-Concussion Syndrome, suffering a second blow to the head while recovering from an initial concussion can have catastrophic consequences, possibly even leading to death.

To learn more about ImPACT and Gwinnett Medical Center”s Sports Medicine Program, visit gwinnettsportsmed.com.