Pre-season baseline testing helps diagnose concussions in football season; E. Ky. doctor has been offering test for 5 years

Many football players in Eastern Kentucky are getting a baseline test to determine their balance, memory and reaction times before they even compete in the first game of the season, so it can be compared to a similar exam during the season if they have a suspected concussion, Miranda Combs reports for Lexington’s WKYT-TV.

Signs and Symptoms of Concussion
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A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All athletes who are involved in impact sports are at risk, Concussions are on the rise among high-school athletes and girls are more prone to them than boys in sports played by both sexes, according to the Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky.

Dr. Gilliland of KDMC Sports Medicine in Ashland started doing baseline test, also called impact test, five years ago and can often be found on the sidelines of Friday night football games in the region. He does these test for 23 high-schools and three universities in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia.

Timothy McCoy, a football player for West Carter High School, is a prime example of how baseline testing works.Timothy was recently hit on the side of the head during a football game, and because he had completed a baseline test with Gilliland, it was determined that his reaction times had changed, verifying that he had a concussion, Combs reports.

Several days later, Gilliland did another evaluation and determined that Timothy no longer had a concussion and gave him the go-ahead to slowly return to the game.

“His reaction time is exactly where it was when he took his baseline test and that’s reassuring to me,” he told Combs.

Gilliland told Combs that concussions are “different for everybody” and last different lengths of time. He also noted that there had been a shift in public awareness about the seriousness of concussions.

“I think it says that the public is getting educated to this risk and I think it says that we are starting to accept that concussions may have more danger behind them than we had presumed. That doesn’t mean that the public wasn’t concerned about the issue, it’s just the public wasn’t educated about the issue” he said.

In 2012, Kentucky passed s sports-concussion law that requires concussion recognition training for coaches and athletic trainers and instigated return to play guidelines for scholastic sport leagues. Visit for more information.

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