Combining sophisticated technology and clinical assessment, baseline testing provides your athlete’s physician with objective assessments that facilitate a smooth transition to recovery and safe return to play, should a concussion occur.
What It Is and Who Should Do It
Baseline testing uses computerized, physical, and cognitive exams to create a snapshot of how a person’s brain functions when healthy. This information can serve as a reference point, or baseline, for normal individual neurological function. If an injury occurs after testing, a physician with a background in treating concussions has critical information with which to manage the injury.
Baseline testing is recommended for anyone who frequently participates in activities where there is a risk of concussion, especially student athletes, whose season should begin with this testing before they ever see a court or playing field.
In short, baseline testing:
- Provides a snapshot of how the brain functions when healthy
- Helps a physician compare post-concussion measures against the normal baseline measures
- Can be extremely helpful in determining the severity of the concussion
- Helps doctors establish an individualized treatment plan
What to Expect
Several tests are conducted to get a complete picture of the healthy brain. Tests are easy and can typically be completed in under an hour. All tests are supervised by physician or nurse practitioners, as well as certified licensed physical and occupational therapists.
Baseline testing covers three domains: cognitive, visual tracking, and balancing functions. It takes more than one type of test to compile a comprehensive baseline.
The Cantu Concussion Center employs three types of baseline testing:
A computerized examination. Measures cognition such as thinking, reasoning, memory, concentration, attention, executive function, and multitasking. Takes only 20 minutes.
Balance Error Scoring System (BESS)
Measures the effects of mild head injury on balance. Patients are asked to assume a variety of stances for 20 seconds each, on both a firm hard surface and a soft foam surface. The administrator counts the number of errors. Takes only 10 minutes to conduct.
A test of eye tracking, evaluating vision, smooth pursuit, and saccadic eye movements. Takes about 2 minutes to complete.