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WellStar Health System Teams With Cobb County School District to Provide Concussion Testing for Student Athletes

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 General News J E 4
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More than 8,000 high school student athletes to be tested

MARIETTA, Ga., May 24, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Cobb County School District and WellStar Health System will hold a joint press meeting at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 26, at Campbell High School (5265 Ward St. in Smyrna). Representatives from both organizations will be available as will a student-athlete who has taken the test and his/her parent. Also, Mark Brown, M.D., will be available to answer medical questions.

WellStar Health System is partnering with the Cobb County School District to provide funding for concussion management testing for all Cobb County high school athletes.

Under the agreement, WellStar will fund baseline concussion testing for more than 8,000 student athletes at all Cobb County high schools, a nearly $10,000 commitment.  The tests will be administered prior to the start of the 2011-2012 athletic season and will provide a baseline reading.  In the event of a concussion, the baseline test could be compared to a post-concussion test by a physician to determine the athlete's ability to return to play following the injury.

"WellStar is committed to the health and well-being of our community," said Keith Bowermaster, a spokesperson for WellStar.  "By providing these tests to area student athletes, we are putting the right tools in the hands of the physicians, parents, athletic trainers and coaches to help determine when it is safe for a student athlete to return to both limited and full contact activities."      

Each year, emergency departments treat an estimated 135,000 sports and recreation related traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, among children ages 5 to 18, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  If left untreated, a concussion can lead to long-term problems, and in some cases, even death.

"Even at the high school level, concussions are a common occurrence in competitive sports, and we are still learning about their serious effects," said Steve Jones, Cobb County School District Athletic Director. "Until now, we haven't had an effective means of determining when an athlete who suffers a concussion is safe to return to competition. These tests will provide a benchmark to help us make that determination more accurately. WellStar should be commended for providing a service to our schools that truly will help improve the safety of students."

Student athletes participating in all sport activities, and not just high impact sports, are eligible to take the baseline test with parent permission. Additionally, student athletes who participate in cheerleading activities will also have the test available to them.  

ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is the computerized concussion evaluation program that the Cobb County School District has selected to use.  The 20-minute test can be administered by an athletic trainer, school nurse, athletic director, team coach, team doctor, or anyone trained to administer baseline testing.  

The program measures multiple aspects of the athlete's cognitive functioning including attention span, working memory, sustained and selective attention time and reaction time.

The vision of WellStar Health System is to deliver world-class healthcare.  WellStar, a not-for-profit health system, includes Cobb, Douglas, Kennestone, Paulding and Windy Hill hospitals; WellStar Medical Group; Urgent Care Centers; Health Place; Homecare; Hospice; Atherton Place; Paulding Nursing Center; and WellStar Foundation. For more information, call 770-956-STAR or visit www.wellstar.org.

SOURCE WellStar Health System

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