Q: I have been hearing a bit about baseline testing as it relates to concussion in sport. Can you tell me more about this and if it is really necessary?
A: As it is the beginning of many sporting seasons it is a good time to talk about concussion related baseline testing (BLT). BLT is a method by which some records can be made about one’s normal, uninjured, physical and cognitive capacity. It is important that this is done before any injury occurs or full recovery from previous injury has been achieved. As any concussion/concussion-type injury is quite difficult to quantify, it is very helpful to have this, pre-injury, information to compare to, work with and help set targets and expectations for recovery. When one has completed a baseline test and then, subsequently, becomes concussed or experiences a concussive injury, post injury assessment results can then be compared to the BLT results allowing the health care provider to more fully assess the extent of the injury, plan treatment and evaluate progress. So, are they necessary? Well, not entirely as post injury assessment and treatment can and does occur without a BLT but they do provide another tool that helps to make the management of these types of injuries more objective and quantifiable and hence facilitates better management and recovery. A thorough BLT is not that costly when compared to the other costs associated with sport and they provide reliable insight into the individual who may be quite “abnormal” and suffering an array of symptoms following a concussion. When one willingly participates in an activity where the risk of concussion is real, it only makes sense to take all steps possible to minimize the chance of injury as well as position well for good management should one occur!