27 Investigates: Concussion baseline testing shouldn’t be only tool

A neuropsychologist has a warning for parents who rely on one type of evaluation

Baseline testing shouldn't be only tool when evaluating concussions.


BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Everyone agrees that baseline testing in concussion injury is an important tool when it comes to keeping kids safe after a head injury. But after our story about the tests aired last week, Neuropsychologist Dr. Carla Arlien of Boardman reached out to WKBN 27 First News with a warning for parents about relying too heavily on one type of tool.

Dr. Carla Arlien specializes in concussions and helping people to recover from head injuries when their symptoms won’t go away. She has seen the ImPACT test used as the only instrument to determine cognitive function and says it’s not enough.

“I usually see them way after the fact after they have had a concussion and they’ve been cleared because they are still struggling,” Arlien said.

Arlien will be the first to say that the ImPACT test is an important tool but shouldn’t be the only one. She says she sees the same symptoms, over and over, and they don’t always show up on baseline tests.

“Sometimes people will do okay on the ImPACT test and they are cleared to play and then they come and see me because they are still struggling. Their grades are falling in school; they are not feeling right emotionally; they might be more moody and they don’t know why,” Arlien said.

It’s important for parents to look at the whole picture by keeping tabs on school performance and if their child is suffering from headaches or fatigue following a concussion. Symptoms that linger for three weeks or more should be evaluated by a specialist and parents should consider therapy to help the brain heal.

“There are various tools that we use. One is cognitive rehab where we give exercises for the brain in order to find new pathways so that person can think and feel better emotionally,” Arlien said.

The message from all experts that First News has consulted is the same: Your brain needs time to heal. A second concussion before that healing takes place can have permanent effects.

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