August 15, 2018

Learn the importance of having a baseline concussion test before a head injury ever occurs.

Pre-concussion baseline testing is like a pre-season physical of the brain.

The test enables medical professionals to record an athlete’s normal neurological state, and “Then if the athlete sustains a concussion, we can repeat the test to compare it to his or her baseline,” said Gary S. Solomon, PhD, co-director of the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center.

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that changes the way the brain works. Concussions often are caused by a blow to the head, but they can also occur when the head and upper body are shaken violently. A concussion is not something you can see, and some athletes may not feel symptoms until hours or days after the injury. Most people with concussions recover quickly and fully, but some have symptoms for days, weeks or longer.

Each concussion is treated on an individual basis. Testing includes the computerized ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) test, a balance assessment and an individual neurologic history.

The ImPACT test is a 20-minute computerized test of factors such as reaction time and more.

“The baseline test is used before the onset of the sports activity to measure the athlete’s baseline performance. It tests for memory, attention span, visual and verbal problem solving,” said Deb McCroskey, M.D., director of Vanderbilt Health Walk-In Clinics. “If a concussion occurs, the test is repeated and compared to the baseline score as part of determining if the athlete is ready to return to his or her sport.”

It also gathers data on a patient’s physical characteristics, concussion history and neurological profile, including history of disorders that can affect recovery from concussion such as learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, dyslexia and autism.

One exercise asks participants to remember a word list and recall those words later. Another requires participants to press a certain key depending on the shape shown on screen.

Pre-concussion baseline testing aids the process of treating concussions by providing the following benefits:

  • Provides a useful comparison against post-concussion abilities;
  • Gives medical providers knowledge to create personalized plans for recovery and return to play as an athlete returns to his or her baseline;
  • Can allow athletes to return to play sooner because coaches, athletes, parents and athletic trainers will know goals of recovery.

Learn the top signs of concussion in children here.

Baseline concussion testing

Vanderbilt Health Walk-in Clinics now offer Vanderbilt ImPACT Baseline Testing and Concussion Management in:

  • Bellevue
  • Belle Meade
  • Brentwood*
  • Cool Springs*
  • Franklin*
  • Nolensville*
  • Spring Hill*

Find locations here. No is appointment needed or save your spot at
Hours: Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
*Our Williamson County Walk-In Clinics are a joint venture with Williamson Medical Center.

This testing is also available at:

Vanderbilt Orthopedics Institute–Medical Fitness Center
(615) 322-4540
Medical Center East, South Tower, Suite 3200
1215 21st Ave. S.
Monday-Thursday 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Friday: 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.