CAMBRIDGE -- A concussion is not just a bump to the head. It's a traumatic brain injury that needs proper treatment whether it is mild or severe. Beginning with the fall sports season, Southeastern Med will offer ImPACT (Immediate Post concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) concussion program free of charge to all student athletes within the Cambridge, Rolling Hills and East Muskingum School Districts.

ImPACT is a computerized exam utilized in many professional, collegiate and high school sports programs across the country to successfully assist with diagnosis and management of concussions. The exam can be given to athletes before beginning a sport to establish a healthy, baseline score. It tracks information such as memory, reaction time and concentration. If an athlete is believed to have suffered a head injury during competition, he or she is removed from the sport and given a post-injury ImPACT test to help determine the severity of the injury and when return-to-play is appropriate and safe.

Athletes within the Cambridge, Rolling Hills and East Muskingum School Districts competing in grades 7-12 will be given a baseline test with their teams at a time determined by their athletic trainer and coaches. Any student athlete age 10 or older who is interested in completing preseason testing can contact their school athletic trainer for more details.

Southeastern Med will also offer ImPACT to student athletes outside of these three districts at Southeastern Med's Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Services facility, 10095 Brick Church Road, in Cambridge. For ImPACT pricing information, call 740-439-8977.

Athletes who sustain concussions usually recover without lasting health problems by following certain precautions and taking a breather from sports. But a child with an undiagnosed concussion can be at risk for brain damage, disability and even death.

An athlete who suffers a concussion can be at risk for a condition known as second impact syndrome if he or she returns to sports before full recovery. Second impact syndrome is a life-threatening condition in which a second concussion occurs before a first concussion has properly healed, causing rapid and severe brain swelling. Second impact syndrome can result from even a very mild concussion that occurs days or weeks after the initial concussion. ImPACT testing catches eager athletes who deny their symptoms to get back on the field early. ImPACT offers objective results with safeguards to prevent cheating in the test.

Parents should be aware that signs and symptoms of a concussion can show up right after the injury or may not appear or be noticed until hours, days, or weeks after injury. If your child reports any symptoms, or if you notice signs or symptoms consistent with a concussion, seek medical attention right away. Common symptoms include: headache, dizziness, feeling foggy, nausea, fatigue, and confusion. Common signs include memory loss, a loss of balance and coordination, and changes in personality. Concussion severity varies widely, and the number of signs and symptoms vary also - serious injuries may show few symptoms.

For information about ImPACT or concussion management, call the athletic trainers at Southeastern Med at 740-439-8977.