Melinda Roalstad prepares Eric Williams for his ImPACT test at the Park City Medical Center.
Lindsey Vonn takes a
downhill training run
in her freeski clothes in
Garmisch to evaluate
her recovery from a
these things are affected when you have a concussion — ImPACT offers a way for us to evaluate that objectively and see if athletes have fully
ImPACT’s versatility is a strong selling point to
constantly traveling athletes. It can be taken on
any computer with an Internet connection, and
then the results can be sent electronically to be
evaluated by professionals.
According to Roalstad, ImPACT can be effective down to age 10 and should be used to establish an athlete’s individual baseline cognitive norm prior to each competitive season. Through
Think Head First, Roalstad regularly travels to educate athletes and their parents while collecting
athlete’s baseline data, something she encourages all youth sport programs to do.
Roalstad says she is encouraged that the new laws will prompt adults involved with minor sports
to take concussions more seriously “so people don’t just pass it off as just a ding on the head, like
it’s no big deal, because it is a big deal,” she says. “And if you manage the mild ones correctly, then
you are doing the right thing. The laws we are seeing now are to prevent repetitive injury and more
significant injury because we didn’t manage the mild ones properly.”
Vonn gained plenty of firsthand knowledge on concussions. “I learned a lot more about the pro-
cess, I learned about different types of symptoms and what to look for,” she says. “You really have
to listen to your body, similar to other injuries, to know when to get back on the horse. The more
awareness about concussions, the better. It’s not always easy to diagnose; the fact that more
people are monitoring it more closely is definitely a positive thing.”
Though ImPACT and protective measures are important parts of a concussion prevention and
treatment program, Roalstad is quick to point out that there is still much to learn about bran injuries.
“Ten to 15 years ago we didn’t know what was going on with this injury,” she says. “Concussion is
a much more complicated injury that we originally thought. There is still a lot we don’t know, so we
need to be a lot better about managing it and paying attention to it.”
Fingers crossed that my baseline data doesn’t need to be dusted off after my annual Birds of Prey
downhill inspection in a few weeks.
CLAIRE ABBE; GEPA
SkiRacing.com OC TOBER 31, 2011 | 48