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USD 431 takes lead in providing concussion testing
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HOISINGTON — Traumatic brain injuries  and the possibility of cumulative, lingering effects from concussion have led the Hoisington School District to begin using IMPACT-a computer concussion evaluation system for student athletes.
“We’re just looking out for kids,” said Joel Mason, USD 431 activities director. “This is for up-in the-air cases. It takes the guesswork out, and it’s going to protect kids.”
Mason said that students that show obvious signs of concussion at the sideline will be immediately removed from the game and referred to their family doctor. This test is for players in the grey area.
IMPACT (Immediate Post-concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) establishes a baseline for cognitive function. The test measures areas such as reaction times and memory. That information will be stored in a database can be used for retesting if a brain injury has occurred.
Baseline testing will be done every two years.  A concussion is considered a traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head that changes the way the brain normally works, and it  causes the brain to move quickly back and forth, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
If the students takes the test and it matches their baseline, it will get them back on the field sooner.
“We want to make sure not to put kids back too soon,” said Mason. “It will reassure us too.”
The district has a physician on the sidelines, Dr. Dan Witt, who not only will assist with the concussion program, he will also assess injuries, both at home and away games. Dr. Witt has received training in the use of IMPACT and received certification.
Dr. Witt, who is retired, “has a vested interest in the community, kids and the district,” said Mason. Dr. Witt is donating his time.
The district has already done pre-testing on football players.
This test is used by professional and Division I sports teams, said Mason. In addition, it is available at a reasonable cost.
Students participating in football, basketball and wrestling will all take baseline testing prior to the sports season. The district has already done pre-testing on football players. It will not be used at the games, but when questions arise after games.