Nearly all colleges and many high schools require what is known as Baseline tests for concussion management. These short tests are completed in the preseason and the results are used as a comparison if an Athlete is injured. Because the Cogstate Computerized Cognitive Assessment Tool (CCAT) can easily be used by Athletes as young as age 10, it is now common for parents of younger Athletes to insist their sons and daughters complete this step when preparing for the sports season.
Taking an Cogstate online Baseline test for concussion management is easy. Parents have the option of creating and managing secure family accounts or allowing children to create individual Athlete accounts. Baseline tests can be completed in eight to 10 minutes in a convenient location (home, school, clinic) under the supervision of a responsible adult. The Baseline test will require a computer with an Internet connection. It is not an intelligence test and no studying is required. This is a check on how information is processed. Results are not used for any purpose other than to set a benchmark for comparison should an Athlete later be suspected of having a concussion.
The Cogstate CCAT is designed for use by Athletes at all levels of play and may be supervised by responsible adults who help ensure an ideal environment and a “best effort.” Cogstate Baseline tests are available for individuals and teams and can be performed separate from preseason evaluations with Medical Providers. It is, however, used as part of the evaluation by qualified Medical Providers during follow-up care and is often required before Athletes may return to practice or competitive play.
Through a series of four tasks using playing cards, the test measures select brain processes--attention, learning, working memory, and processing speed. The Cogstate CCAT scores the test for each individual Athlete, plots the score on a graph, and generates a PDF report. Cogstate will store test results for 15 years. These results can be shared manually or electronically with others involved in the Athlete’s care, such as Medical Providers, Parents, Coaches, and Team Managers.
Completed in the preseason, an Cogstate Baseline test allows Medical Providers, who evaluate the Athlete and provide care following a concussion, to prepare a more individualized treatment and return-to plan plan.
When taken before and after an injury the tests can help qualified Medical Providers determine cognitive change and provides them with another tool to assess when an Athlete has recovered enough to resume play. The Cogstate CCAT can objectively indicate lingering cognitive impairment in a concussed Athlete and therefore, is a helpful tool in discussing recovery and return-to-play timeframes with an Athlete.
For better concussion management and may help Athletes safely return to play sooner.
Each injury and recovery is unique, but having a cognitive benchmark for comparison can help a qualified Medical Provider determine safe protocols for return to play and when an Athlete has returned to his / her Baseline performance. If no Baseline is on file, the Medical Provider may need to conduct a series of After Injury tests to watch for the Athlete’s cognition to stabilize. This is often followed by a gradual return to activity.
For greater peace of mind knowing the Athlete has returned to his / her pre-injury level of cognitive performance before returning to play. The Cogstate CCAT is another tool to assist in making sure the brain has been given time to heal.
Today, cognitive Baseline tests are used at all levels of competitive play as part of comprehensive concussion management programs. It is one tool that helps qualified Medical Providers assess the injury, establish an individual treatment plan, and determine return-to-play.
Why Cogstate? The Cogstate CCAT can help answer those difficult questions about an Athlete's readiness to return to play. It’s another valuable tool for Medical Providers who will add the information to their own observations and protocols as well as the Athlete’s self-reporting of symptoms to diagnose and track a concussion.