Florida Air Academy Tackling Concussions Head-On

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What do Florida Air Academy, the NFL and NASCAR have in common? The answer might surprise you: ImPACT testing for sports injuries.

The tests give comfort to parents concerned about their children playing sports

Florida Air Academy, the Melbourne based private school for boys and girls in grades 6-12, is taking the lead when it comes to the potential for sports injuries and concussions, becoming the first high school in central Florida to proactively administer the ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) computerized assessment to all students.

As a 'Former NFL Player' lawsuit grabs the headlines, and the Centers for Disease Control reporting an increased level of sports-related, traumatic brain injuries to people under the age of 19, it is no surprise that ImPACT testing is gaining momentum in high schools and colleges throughout the country—with schools like Florida Air Academy, Nova Southeastern and Florida Institute of Technology, proactively administering tests.

“Florida Air Academy made the decision to implement ImPACT testing because we believe it ensures student safety and a more accurate diagnosis in the event of injury,” said Barbara Kaufman, R.N. and F.A.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.”

F.A.A. Students Gain Reassurance

Florida Air Academy graduate, Gianni Cacci, was among the first batch of students to undergo ImPACT testing at F.A.A. and she’s certainly glad she did.

Following a hard fall during a soccer tournament, she was admitted to the ER and diagnosed with a severe concussion.

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

“The day 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 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 further two tests, the figures were back in the normal range and the teen resumed non-contact training. Four weeks after the initial injury occurred, a final reading indicated normal brain function and no long-term damage.

“Gianni’s case demonstrated how ImPACT testing can be highly effective,” said nurse Kaufmann. “F.A.A. 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 family had confirmation after a relatively short period of time that no long term damage had occurred, which was obviously a huge relief!”

“Each of our students here at F.A.A. now has an ImPACT score on file,” 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 to complete. 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 Air Academy that has students from more than 25 countries in its student population.

Should a head injury occur, 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 6-12. Florida Air Academy requires them each year.

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Jeanette Middleton
Florida Air Academy
+1 321-723-3211 Ext: 30065
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