MARSHALL – About 40 student athletes recently made sure that – should they ever receive a head injury during a practice or a game – the best possible information will be at hand to help them recover.
Members of the Marshall High School Men’s Soccer program – along with some of their siblings – visited Oaklawn’s main campus on Madison Street during two sessions the week of Aug. 14 to undergo free concussion baseline testing, a program made possible in part by a grant from the Battle Creek Community Foundation.
“As the mother of two student-athletes, it’s important to me that – should they experience a concussion – we are in a position to ensure the best recovery process possible and we are reducing the risk of long-term complications,” said Heather Luciani as she watched her sons Jack and Jeremy go through the testing process.
“I’m also appreciative of Coach Hans Morgan and our athletic director, Dan Coddens, for their support of the program and for the way that they are prioritizing the health and well-being of their student-athletes,” Luciani said.
“We appreciate Oaklawn and its commitment to our student athletes’ safety. A thank-you also should go to our group of parents who made this a priority for their children,” Morgan said.
Marshall soccer coach Morgan also spoke in glowing terms about the concussion testing program.
“This is something that was mandatory when I was coaching at Olivet College and is a great tool in being able to properly diagnose concussions correctly as well as chart out a proper and safe return strategy,” Morgan said.
“The health, safety, and well-being of my players is definitely one of my top priorities and this is a great tool to have to ensure that we are doing everything we can to maintain their safe participation,” he said.
“As such, I would like to encourage everyone to participate especially as Oaklawn is graciously offering this service free of charge to us,” he said.
The testing is composed of machine-measured balance exercises and computerized cognitive evaluation, measuring multiple aspects of cognitive function. Those aspects include attention span, working memory, sustained and selective attention time, response variability, non-verbal problem solving and reaction time.
“The information gathered provides a baseline comparison and assists health-care providers in treatment, should the athlete experience an injury,” said Nathan Burns, director of cardiopulmonary rehabilitation at the Oaklawn Fitness Center. Such testing helps to reduce health-related risks of sports-related concussions, and is not intended to diagnose a concussion.
Similar testing activities also are being conducted for teams in the Coldwater and Pennfield school districts, Burns said.
The Oaklawn Concussion Management Program is designed to provide physicians, parents and athletes with scientific data showing the level of impairment an athlete has suffered after concussion and a method of monitoring the healing process so the athletes’ return to participation is safer and with minimal side effects.
The State of Michigan and the Michigan High School Athletic Association have put in place rules to help minimize the potential further injury to athletes who are returned to participation too soon.
Several elite sporting organizations now mandate that athletes take baseline cognitive tests so that medical staff can best manage their concussion injuries. Most notable was the decision by the National Football League in 2006 to require all players to baseline test before each pre-season.
Baseline testing takes less than an hour and testing dates are scheduled regularly. For more information call (269) 781-6030 and ask about upcoming testing dates. Pre-registration is required. Follow-up testing should be scheduled within 72 hours of a diagnosed concussion.