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Over the past 10 years, research about brain trauma and concussions has included new guidelines regarding return to play. This research has helped physicians and certified athletic trainers understand the severity of concussions and when an athlete can return to sports safely. This year, with the help of the Milton Academy parents, Milton’s athletic trainers now have Impact, a computer software program that helps determine when a student, who has sustained a concussion, may resume play.

Impact software helps evaluate and document multiple aspects of neurocognitive functioning such as memory, brain processing speed, reaction time and post concussive symptoms. In addition, the program provides a user-friendly injury documentation system that facilitates the tracking of the injury from the field through the recovery process.

A 25-minute online test will allow the Academy to have a baseline assessment of each athlete, based on his or her neurocognitive functions. When a student sustains a head injury, the Academy will re-administer the test and Dr. Wong, Milton Academy’s medical director, will compare the results to the baseline test. In addition to Dr. Wong’s assessment, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center will review all test results and make recommendations on return to play. As with our present head injury protocol, Dr. Wong will continue to have final say on all return to play decisions. Impact will serve as an aide when making her final decisions on each individual.

Milton’s athletic trainers will begin testing the varsity lacrosse teams this spring as we become more familiar with the program. In the fall of 2006, athletic trainers will test all student athletes to establish a baseline for each individual. The athletic department believes that Impact will be an important diagnostic tool as we continue to strive toward providing the best health care for our student athletes.