Baseline testing generally should take place before the sport season, ideally prior to the first practice. Baseline testing is a pre-season exam conducted here at InFocus Eyecare. Currently, the most frequently applied baseline testing is the ImPACT Test. This is an ever evolving computer based neuro-cognitive test. In the ideal scenario, this is one method of identifying dysfunction consistent with an mTBI. One weakness of the ImPACT test is how it is administered. It is typically administered in a group setting, often only once or twice during the athletes career (unless a concussion is suspected). A second weakness is that there limited information and reliability for kids younger than 12 years of age, and many non-concussion based factors will influence the outcome. Perhaps the largest negative is that only a select few students are ever baseline tested. Any non-school sponsored athletic program, club or team activity or those athletes in elementary and middle school are generally not baselined. Because of physical, emotional, and neurocognitive maturation of our young athletes, baseline testing should be done at least prior to every year if not every season.
The baseline testing that is performed here at InFocus Eyecare can be done on athletes as young as 6 years of age. Measurements that we collect and analyze include:
- eye movement efficiency
- Color vision
- eye-hand coordination
- saccadic eye movement
- foot speed
- brain function (including learning and memory skills, ability to pay attention or concentrate)
- VOMS Testing (Vestibular Ocular Motor Screening Assessment)
Results from baseline tests (or pre-injury tests) can be used and compared if an athlete has a suspected concussion. These results can also provide a basis to return to classroom then the return to play because when the athlete is able to perform to the same level as before the injury, and he/she is symptom free then returning to play is justified. The baseline should be done before every season as ability will change due to maturation and in the event that a concussion was received (riding a bike on the weekend for example) but diagnosis was missed.