How To Know If You Should See A Psychiatrist – Concussion tests evaluate how your brain functions after a head injury. Most concussion tests consist of questionnaires or symptom checklists. Concussion tests test things like alertness, memory, focus, speed of thought, and problem-solving ability. They also test your balance and coordination. Concussion tests are one of the tools used to diagnose a concussion.
Health care providers, athletic trainers, and coaches use concussion tests to evaluate brain function before and after a head injury.
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A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury resulting from a blow, violent push, or blow to the head. Trauma disrupts the normal functioning of the brain. You can also get a concussion after a hard blow to the body that causes you to jerk your head forward, backward, or sideways.
It is generally believed that a concussion only happens when you lose consciousness. In fact, most people who have a concussion never lose consciousness. You, your child, or a loved one may have suffered a concussion and not even know it. That’s why it’s important to get checked even if you think a blow to the head isn’t serious.
Anyone who experiences a blow to the head or a whiplash-like head movement should be checked for a concussion. A concussion test tests your cognition — your brain’s ability to think and process information — after a head injury.
A concussion test is a useful tool to help your health care provider diagnose a concussion. Early diagnosis allows earlier planning and management of concussion. Reconcussion testing is also useful to assess how well your brain is recovering from a head injury.
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There are many concussion tests. They range from very simple (usually performed by healthcare professionals) to very detailed (by healthcare professionals). All of these tests use verbal, written, or computerized methods to test different brain functions.
There are many “so-called” concussion tests. Most concussion tests are a series of questionnaires or symptom checklists. Everyone has their own rating system.
Some concussion tests are performed by athletic trainers, coaches, or sports medicine doctors. Other tests are self-administered tests that you can complete yourself. However, others are one of the tools used by healthcare providers such as neurologists.
Warning: Concussion assessment tools are not a substitute for a medical evaluation. No youth athlete (under 18 years of age) who has sustained a blow to the head or suspected concussion should return to sport on the same day. They should be removed immediately until a medical provider deems it safe for them to resume playing sports. In all 50 states, it is against state law for an athlete to return to practice/play without first being cleared by a medical professional.
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People use a standardized concussion (SAC) test on the sideline and in emergency room testing to assess the immediate mental state of athletes. This test tests the athlete’s orientation, immediate memory, concentration and delayed memory. The SAC takes about five minutes to complete. Test questions include:
SCAT stands for Sports Concussion Assessment Tool 5. It is a concussion assessment tool for people 13 years of age and older. This includes the SAC test and more, a neck and balance assessment, a yes/no symptom checklist, and other information about concussion-related injuries and conditions. The SCAT5 takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. There is also a pediatric version for children aged 6 to 12 years.
MACE stands for Military Acute Concussion Evaluation. This test collects information about the event, signs and symptoms of the concussion and includes a version of the SAC test information.
During this test, your eyes are closed and your hands are on your hips. The position is with the feet shoulder-width apart, one foot in front of the other, and one foot standing on the non-dominant leg. All poses must be held for 20 seconds.
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Healthcare providers use the Acute Concussion Assessment (ACE) tool. It includes questions about the presence of concussion signs, a checklist of 22 concussion symptoms, and risk factors that can prolong recovery. The form collects specific information, including:
The Postconcussion Symptom Scale (PCSS) is a self-report test in which you rank 21 symptoms in order of severity (none to severe) at baseline and at different time points. Symptoms cover physical, thinking, sleep and emotional functioning.
The Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Test is a computerized test for athletes 12 years of age and older. The test has three sections.
A pediatric version of this testing platform is now available as well as a rapid test for diagnostic testing in the emergency department or urgent care facility.
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Cleveland Clinic has developed its concussion mobile app for medical professionals who evaluate and manage concussions. After collecting baseline data, the C3 app is used to:
The C3 app compares post-injury assessments to the athlete’s baseline and normative data for balance, information processing, reaction time, sequencing, coordination and vision.
Although these tests are useful in identifying a possible concussion, you should still consult your healthcare provider (if the test has not been performed by a medical professional). Your health care provider or neurology team will also perform a complete exam, including balance and vision tests. They may also order imaging tests, including an MRI or CT scan, to check for bruising or bleeding in the brain. There is also a blood test called a brain injury indicator. This blood test detects specific proteins in the blood that are released after a mild traumatic brain injury. The presence of these proteins can indicate brain bleeding.
This type of concussion testing is mostly done on student athletes. College athletes who play contact sports typically undergo a baseline concussion test prior to the start of the season. This questionnaire measures normal brain function in areas such as memory, thinking speed and attention. Computerized testing is often similar to playing video games. If an athlete sustains a head injury at any time during the season, they are removed from the game and re-evaluated. Current concussion test results are compared to preseason results.
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Another simple tool is the side shake assessment. This test examines brain activity in athletes with suspected concussions. Typical questions include:
Remember, no player who has been hit to the head or is suspected of having a concussion should ever return to the game. These tests provide some information. If the school does not have a doctor or sports medicine specialist, players should be referred to their health care provider for further monitoring. Your health care provider will perform a complete physical exam and some tests, or may refer you to a sports medicine specialist or neurologist for additional tests and imaging tests, if needed.
First, know that only medical professionals can examine you or your loved one and order all the necessary tests to diagnose a concussion. However, in some cases, you can ask a few simple questions and gather information to share with your healthcare provider.
For example, you could be with your parents when they fall and hit their head, or with your child when they fall off their bike and hit their head. Gathering information immediately after a fall will be helpful not only when you first contact your provider, but also when you are caring for your loved one after they return home from the exam. If there is any change in the information, call your loved one’s health care provider immediately.
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Again, never attempt to self-diagnose a concussion. No head injury is too small. All head injuries should be evaluated by a medical professional. Your loved one’s health care provider will want to run their own tests, possibly including brain imaging studies, before making a diagnosis.
Each concussion test has its own scoring system. You may take one or more concussion tests. If the concussion test(s) and other findings indicate that you have had a concussion, your healthcare provider will discuss a recovery plan.
A normal diameter of the pupil (the black part of your eye) should be about the same in both eyes. Your pupils react to direct light. One simple test to evaluate for a concussion is to shine a low-beam flashlight from the outer edge of each eye inward. Pupils should quickly shrink (constrict) in response to light. A slow pupil response to light may indicate a brain injury (increased intracranial pressure or ICP). Pupils that do not respond to light at all may indicate a severe increase in ICP or severe brain damage.
A pupil’s form can also reveal important information. Normally, your pupils should be round. An oval pupil can also be a sign of brain injury (increased intracranial pressure).
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A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury. Concussion tests are a relatively simple, quick tool to evaluate possible concussions. Concussion tests are not the only method used by healthcare providers to diagnose concussions. Your health care provider will perform a complete exam, order an imaging scan (if needed), and other tests. The results of concussion tests and other tests allow early diagnosis and management of concussion, which will help you recover faster and
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