Concussion Baseline Testing and Management

Helmet to Helmet

Concussions are a hot topic in athletics these days, and for good reason. According to a 2012 study of 20 high school sports, concussions accounted for 13.2% of all injuries in the sports studied, two thirds (66.6%) of which occurred during competition and one-third (33.4%) during practice (Marar, McIlvain, Fields, et al, 2012).

What is baseline testing?
Baseline testing is a pre-season exam conducted by a Certified Athletic Therapist. Baseline tests are used to assess an athlete’s balance and cognitive function (memory skills, ability to concentrate, and how quickly he or she thinks and solve problems), as well as for the presence of any concussion symptoms. Results from baseline tests can be used and compared to a similar exam conducted by a Certified Athletic Therapist during the season if an athlete has a suspected concussion.

Baseline testing generally takes place during the pre-season—ideally prior to the first practice. It is important to note that some baseline and concussion assessment tools are different depending on the age of the athlete. As of March 2013, a separate Sport Concussion Assessment Tool was created for athletes 5-12 years of age (Child SCAT3). Athletes 13 and up are to be assessed with the SCAT3.

How is baseline testing information used if an athlete has a suspected concussion?
Completing a baseline SCAT3 allows the Certified Athletic Therapist to compare post-injury test results to that of the athletes “normal”. This assists the Certified Athletic Therapist in identifying the effects of the injury and making more informed return to school and play decisions.

How will my concussion be managed?
Following a baseline SCAT3, the Certified Athletic Therapist works to manage your symptoms. This includes:

  • Symptom scales, follow-up testing, graduated return to play (RTP), work, and/or school
  • Intervention rehab if necessary
  • Work with team athletes/therapist/coach/parents to advise on RTP steps
  • Referral to specialist if necessary
  • Communication with Team/Coaches meeting to provide information and answer questions regarding the program, policies and procedures


To discuss how Align Sport Therapy & Yoga can help you with concussion testing or management, contact us.

Marar M, McIlvain NM, Fields SK, Comstock RD. Epidemiology of Concussions Among United States High School Athletes in 20 Sports.  Am J Sports Med 2012;40(4):747-755.

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