Barrow Neurological Institute today launched the Barrow Concussion Network, the most comprehensive concussion prevention, treatment and education program for young athletes in the nation.
Under the leadership of Barrow physicians and the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA), the network will include mandatory concussion education, voluntary pre-injury testing, post-injury medical resources to all AIA schools and groundbreaking research on injured Arizona students. The network is a partnership between Barrow, the AIA, the Arizona Cardinals and A.T. Still University.
Beginning this week, all Arizona student athletes will have the opportunity to undergo ImPACT testing, a concussion evaluation system that helps determine when an athlete is well enough to return to play following a concussion. This is the first time every athlete will have access to this valuable tool. The free testing is being made available through a grant by Dick’s Sporting Goods’ Protecting Athletes through Concussion Education (PACE) program.
As part of the network, Barrow will also launch a research registry which will track concussed student athletes. This will be a powerful tool for Barrow neurologists and researchers to gain never-before-known insights into the long-term effects of concussion.
“The Barrow Concussion Network represents the only statewide comprehensive concussion management program in the nation,” says Dr. Javier Cárdenas, MD, neurologist at Barrow. “We now have all the tools to effectively evaluate and manage concussions in our state’s young athletes.”
Athletes who undergo the voluntary ImPACT testing will first take a baseline test to measure their cognitive level. When an athlete suffers a concussion, they will repeat the test and athletic trainers and doctors will compare the scores to help gauge whether the athlete is ready to return to play. The computerized test uses words, shapes, colors and patterns to measure symptoms, reaction times and processing speeds.
“With this test, we’ll be able to look at how the brain is working now compared to how it was working before a concussion,” says Dr. Cárdenas. “It’s a valuable tool to determine when a player is safe to go back on the field.”
Last year, Barrow, the AIA and the Arizona Cardinals announced Barrow Brainbook, the nation’s first mandated concussion education and test for high school athletes. Since its inception, Barrow Brainbook has educated more than 100,000 Arizona athletes. To build on the success of Barrow Brainbook, the Barrow Concussion Network was formed to more effectively manage concussions once they occur.
With the implementation of the Barrow Concussion Network and Barrow Brainbook, Arizona is the leading state in the education and management of concussions among young athletes.
“As high school football season begins this week, I am confident that for the first time, Arizona’s players will be starting their season more aware of the dangers of concussions. They’ve completed the concussion education and they now have many more resources available to help keep them healthy,” says Harold Slemmer, Ed.D., Executive Director of the AIA.