Student Well-Being

One Million Youths to Get Free Baseline Concussion Tests

By Bryan Toporek — August 03, 2011 1 min read

Dick’s Sporting Goods and ImPACT Applications are teaming up to provide free baseline concussion tests and education to 1 million youth athletes.

The two groups are creating the Protecting Athletes through Concussion Education, or PACE program—what they say is the nation’s largest baseline concussion-screening initiative. ImPACT Applications is responsible for the ImPACT baseline test, one of the more widely used tests in athletics today.

The PACE program plans to provide schools across the nation free access to educational materials about concussions and supply upwards of 3,300 schools with ImPACT test packages (which include baseline tests for up to 300 student-athletes). It also aims to screen 1 million student-athletes in total. Only schools that aren’t currently customers of ImPACT can receive the free test package. (You can sign your school up on the PACE website.)

Baseline tests are used to record a student-athlete’s normal, healthy level of brain activity. When a student-athlete is suspected of having a concussion, he/she would re-take the baseline test, and a medical professional would compare the results with the original test to measure the difference in results. If a student-athlete has more trouble with short-term memory or takes longer to record answers, for instance, these could be potential signs of a concussion.

According to a recent study

presented at the annual meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, baseline tests are critical for accurate concussion diagnosis, because normal, healthy brain-activity levels differ among student-athletes.

An estimated 187,000 high school student-athletes were diagnosed with concussions in the 2009-10 school year, according to research

from the Center for Injury Research and Policy.

Who’s the face of the PACE campaign? None other than former Pittsburgh Steeler Jerome “The Bus” Bettis, who acknowledges that he sustained a number of concussions over his 25-year football career, from middle school to the pros.

“When I heard the number (of concussions in student-athletes), that really did surprise me,” Bettis said to the

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.