Boston, MA (April 25, 2011) – Major League Lacrosse (MLL) announced today it will become one of the first professional sports leagues to require a baseline neurocognitive test that determines an athlete’s ability to return to play after suffering a concussion. ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is the most widely used and most scientifically validated computerized concussion evaluation system and will be mandatory for all MLL athletes prior to the start of the 2011 season.
“Players’ safety is always at the forefront of our minds each season and should a player be diagnosed with a concussion, ensuring he does not return to the playing field before his health is in optimal shape is something we are taking very seriously,” said MLL Commissioner David Gross.
In recent years, the severity of concussions has made national headlines due to an increased number of documented cases, shedding light on the long-term effects of the formerly overlooked condition. Similar to the use of baseline testing recently adopted by the NFL, Major League Lacrosse will become one of the first organizations to execute a league-wide implementation, making the 20-minute computerized test mandatory.
Official MLL Physician Dr. Kevin Plancher was the impetus behind ImPACT Testing for Major League Lacrosse and believes it will be a critical ingredient in the evaluation of a player’s recovery.
“We now realize the catastrophic consequences of repeat concussions before the brain gets a chance to heal,” said Dr. Plancher. “The only way to heal is through both physical and mental rest, without which you can have life-altering problems with depression and the inability to think and process information.”
One of the many dangers of concussions is that they cannot be detected by CT scans or X-rays. The idea behind ImPACT Testing is that it provides objective evidence to know when a player is ready to get back onto the field through a baseline test, which is administered again after the suspected concussion occurs. It tests both the abstract side of your brain and the concrete side of your brain by testing a player’s memory through designs, words, colors, etc.
“I think we will be changing the face of professional lacrosse by being cognisant that concussions are life-altering,” Dr. Plancher said. “It’s not up to a coach or a parent to determine when an athlete is ready to return to the field,” he said, noting that the scientific evidence should be the deciding factor. He added that the test cannot be solely responsible for a player’s evaluation, but “must be taken along with professional attention from a doctor, evaluating the patient’s medical history, a physical exam and determining their strength, coordination and balance.”
Plancher, a leading orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine expert, joined MLL as a team physician for the Long Island Lizards in 2009, eventually becoming the League physician and spearheading the implementation of ImPACT Testing for all players when he and his colleague, Dr. Carl Nissen noticed there was an ongoing concern with athletes suffering from concussions.
“With the advent of players coming to us quietly on the sideline, I thought the time was right,” Dr. Plancher said. “I like to be on the cutting-edge of healthcare and realized that there was no downside except cost, but through Dr. Nissen’s connections we were able to provide ImPACT Testing for a nominal fee.”
Dr. Nissen, Director of Elite Sports Medicine at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, will examine players’ post-concussion results and says the test is a major piece of the puzzle in raising safety awareness amongst athletes.
“The beauty of ImPACT is that mandating baseline tests becomes invaluable because the test has the ability to predict people’s recovery if you can have them take the test before injury and after injury,” Dr. Nissen said.
While both Dr. Plancher and Dr. Nissen advise that the ImPACT Test isn’t failsafe, they urge all athletes who engage in contact sports to consider taking it to ensure a long and healthy life.
About Major League Lacrosse
Major League Lacrosse (MLL) was founded by Jake Steinfeld and is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. Major League Lacrosse commenced play in June of 2001 and is comprised of six teams located in Boston, Chesapeake, Denver, Long Island, Rochester and Hamilton.
Major League Lacrosse’s 2011 Sports Authority All-Star Game will take place on July 9 at Harvard Stadium in Boston. The 2011 Sports Authority MLL Championship Weekend Presented by Warrior, is scheduled for August 27 & 28 at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis, MD.