The Puyallup School District is one of the first statewide to implement a policy that mandates baseline concussion testing before students play specific sports.
The testing is for student-athletes between seventh and 12th grades and will take place before students participate in football, basketball, soccer or wrestling.
The five sessions took place earlier this month at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup. It’s the first year the school district has required baseline concussion testing.
Puyallup School District Athletic Director Rick Wells said the four days of testing were a success.
“It’s all about safety and making sure our kids are cared for in terms of concussions or possible future injuries,” Wells said. “Students get tested so if they do have a concussion, we have something to measure it against when they didn’t have one.
“Each day, we’ve had a steady amount of athletes coming through for testing between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. At any point in time, we’ve had between 40 to 80 kids waiting their turn in line to see one of the trainers to get screened.”
Wells said many student-athletes who plan to participate in sports other than football, basketball, soccer or wrestling also could be tested. Certified athletic trainers, registered nurses, physician assistants trained in concussion management from Apple Physical Therapy and Sound Family Medicine conducted the screenings. Between six and eight medical professionals were available throughout each day.
The testing featured a few different aspects.
“Each athlete was asked to do some balance work,” Wells said. “For example, they did a heel-to-toe walk, back and forth, four times. It was timed, and the amount of deviations are recorded and checked off.
“I went through it myself, and I had lots of checkpoints when I was trying to catch my balance,” he said. “That doesn’t mean I failed. If I had suffered a concussion, I would have twice as many checkpoints, and that is an indicator of a concussion.”
Wells said other questions that were asked including saying the months of the year backward.
“If you can say them in 15 seconds normally, but if you were concussed, you might be able to say it, but it would take 35 or 40 seconds,” Wells said. “These baseline tests establish where you are right now without a concussion, so if you had a concussion, the results would be radically different.”
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