Oklahoma High Schools Using 'Concussion Impact' Test To Evaluate Athletes

Monday, August 9th 2010, 9:47 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

BIXBY, OK -- Beyond the heat, Oklahoma wants to make sure student-athletes aren't headed for trouble by cracking down on concussions.

Before Bixby football players return to the grid-iron for pre-season practice, they are spending some time in the classroom.

Each is required to take what's called a "Concussion Impact" test.

"It's not a pass or fail, not an IQ test," Steve Friebus, an athletic trainer, said. "It's compared to no one but themselves."

It's designed to test brain function and reaction time. If any player sustains a head injury during the season, in addition to a normal medical examination, he will have to take the test again.  If the results don't match up, the player won't be allowed to return to action.

Experts say diagnosing concussions is a notoriously inexact science, and the test is supposed to make the process more objective.

"Everyone who has a concussion is different. You have to treat the patient as an individual, and individualize the treatment plan," Troy Glasser, Bixby Team Doctor, said.

Each district must come up with a way to comply with the new concussion law. Players with head injuries must now be cleared by a medical professional before they play again. But how to enforce the law is up to each school.

Bixby believes the test is the best way to reduce the risk.

"You don't know who's going to sustain an injury and when," Friebus said. "We want to take care of everybody."

And Bixby hopes it takes the emotion out of a decision that can potentially have a long-lasting impact on a young athlete's life.

"We're not basing decisions on well it's the big game, we need to get them in there," Friebus said. "No, it's when they're ready. This is what we're looking for."

All Bixby athletes, not just football players, have to take the concussion test.

Jenks, Holland Hall and Tulsa Metro Christian Academy are also using the same system.