Leading The Way With Concussion Testing

Florida Prep Leads in Student Safety

What do Florida Prep and NASCAR have in common? The answer might surprise you: impact testing for sports injuries.

Florida Prep is taking  proactive action when it comes to the potential for sports injuries and concussions, remaining one of only a handful of high schools in Florida to proactively administer the ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) computerized assessment to all students participating on athletic teams, including basketball and soccer, and in sports clubs such as surfing.

The long-term effects of head injuries are making headlines nationwide and  ImPACT testing is gaining momentum in high schools and colleges throughout the country—with schools like Nova Southeastern, Florida Institute of Technology, and Florida Prep proactively administering tests here in Central Florida.  

“Florida Prep makes the decision to Impact Test because we believe it ensures student safety and a more accurate diagnosis in the event of injury,” said Barbara Kaufman, R.N. and F.P.A. School Nurse. “The tests give comfort to parents who are concerned about their children playing sports, and can help the school make a more accurate determination as to whether a concussion occurred and whether a child is ready to return to athletic activities.”

Florida Prep Students Gain Reassurance

Florida Prep student, Gianni Cacci, was amongst the first batch of students to undergo ImPACT testing at Florida Prep—and she’s certainly glad she did. Gianni is a soccer player who suffered a hard fall during a pre-Christmas game, which resulted in a visit to the ER with a severe concussion.

“Having the baseline ImPACT information already on file was a great comfort to my parents,” says the California-based senior. “They were very concerned about the long term implications of my injury.”

“After my fall I felt fine and believed I was ready to start training again, but an ImPACT test taken at my doctor’s office during the holiday break, revealed my reaction times were slower and some of my readings had declined.”

“I could see clear evidence that I should rest and let myself recover before I went back on the field,” Gianni remarked.

After taking a third test upon returning to Florida Prep, the figures were back in the normal range and Gianni resumed non-contact training. A further test, four weeks after the initial injury occurred, indicated normal brain function and no long-term damage.

“Gianni’s case demonstrated how ImPACT testing can be highly effective,” said nurse Kaufmann. “Florida Prep shared her test score information immediately after the fall with her families’ physician, and after conducting his own tests, a treatment plan was recommended based upon the facts on file.”

She further remarked: “The good news is that the Cacci family had confirmation after a relatively short period of time that no long term damage had occurred, which was obviously a huge relief!” 

“We currently test all students who participate in sports and athletic clubs,” continued Kaufmann. “We consider it a unique tool in the ongoing care of the students in our care; because after all, kids will be kids.” she concluded.

Tackling Concussions Head On

The ImPACT test is administered on a computer and takes about 25 minutes. It measures verbal and visual memory, processing speed and reaction time. It is available in multiple languages, which is especially helpful for a school like Florida Prep that has students from more than 30 countries in attendance.

Should a head injury occur on the field, the school is able to treat the student and then re-test within 3-5 days of an incident. The before-and-after test results can then be provided to the treating physician to more accurately determine the severity of an injury, and importantly, whether a student is physically able to return to play.

If a concussion is suspected, the baseline report serves as a comparison to a repeat ImPACT test, giving physicians something concrete to use in assessing potential changes or damage caused by a concussion—rather than solely base their analysis on subjective statements like "I feel dizzy" or "I have a headache." Baseline tests are suggested every two years for students in grades 5-12, and some schools require them every year for those who play in varsity sports.