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Program offered in metro school districts helps student athletes gauge severity, impact of head trauma

GARDNER, Kan. -- Several metro school districts are offering testing that may one day save your child’s brain. It’s called ImPACT: Immediate Post Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing.

The Gardner Edgerton School District is one district that offers the free testing to its student athletes. ImPACT helps doctors diagnose concussions and all the students have to do is play what equates to a computer game.

Luka Majstorovic is an eighth grader who doesn’t think about getting hurt on the soccer field.

“I just play and if I get hurt I just keep playing,” he said.

Unlike Luca, Majstorovic’s mother Sarah thinks about it any time a child falls or is hit in the head.

“I always gasp and am like are they okay? So, doing this ImPACT testing I think is crucial," said Sarah.

In the event Luca Majstorovic does have a head injury on the field, the results of the baseline test he took Monday will be compared to a post-injury test. Poor results in the follow up test would indicate some sort of brain trauma or concussion. Repeated testing will help determine when he is ready to return to play.

Gardner Edgerton High School Athletic Trainer Donnie Jamison says it is like a pre-season physical of the brain, tracking information like memory, reaction time, speed and concentration.

One of the many tests is a descending number count down.

“Basically timing how fast can they count down from 25 by clicking, finding the numbers all in the square," said Jamison. “In between those they have they have to remember letters from before they started descending the numbers."

Sports and recreational activities account for about 21 percent of traumatic brain injuries among children, and doctors at the Mayo Clinic say multiple injuries put children at a higher risk for permanent damage.

The concussion test is not required for students in the Gardner Edgerton School District, but it is free for any student who wants to take it. Baseline and follow-up testing is paid for by Olathe Medical Center.