A Baseline test is a term for any test used before a treatment or activity. It is one tool in an effective concussion management program because it measures what we can’t see – cognitive (brain) function. Baseline testing is a best practice and is recommended by both the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
How it Works
As part of a proactive concussion management program, an Athlete takes a Baseline test before the sports season begins (or when uninjured). After creating an account at Cogstate, the Athlete can take a Baseline test in eight to 10 minutes; share results with Parents, Coaches, Athletic Trainers, and Doctors; and store for future use. The Cogstate Computerized Cognitive Assessment Tool (CCAT) features four simple tasks with playing cards.
Preseason Baseline Testing
Baseline testing, together with a pre-season evaluation, is an essential part of the concussion management process. The Cogstate CCAT may be supervised by responsible adults who can help ensure an environment free from distractions and an Athlete’s “best effort.” Test results are easily understood by looking for a green checkmark (acceptable) or a red X (try again).
Three Important Points
- Be sure to practice the test at least once before completing a “regular test.” (it only takes three minutes and is available at no charge)
- Encourage Athletes to give the test their “best effort” in an environment free from distractions
- Complete Baseline tests in the preseason, before the first contact practice, or at least yearly
After Injury - Where will your Baseline Test Result be When you Need it?
If an Athlete becomes concussed, they should seek appropriate medical attention. When all concussion symptoms have resolved, under the care of their qualified Medical Provider an Athlete can perform an After Injury test. This test is identical to the Baseline test because repeating the same tasks after the injury identifies any cognitive changes from the Baseline test performance. This ability to compare results helps indicate whether the brain has fully recovered.
Qualified Medical Providers use the test results (comparing Baseline to After Injury) in making decisions about when it is safe for Athletes to return to classroom, practice, or competitive play.