Clinical Psychology

Concussion Management/Athletics

The Athletic Arena as Neuropsychology Laboratory

In all contact sports there is a risk of concussion. Florida Tech employs a comprehensive Concussion Management Program (CMP) to 1) educate student athletes and coaches in identifying concussion symptoms, 2) determine the probability that a concussion has occurred, and 3) recommend accommodations for concussed students during their recovery.

Baseline Testing

The Concussion Management Program (CMP) begins in the preseason when all student-athletes undergo testing to determine their normal (baseline) performance on various tests of cognition, balance, and coordination. If student-athletes later suffer a head trauma, and/or complain of symptoms that are highly correlated with concussion, they are immediately withheld from further practice and play, and evaluated as quickly as possible by one of our Certified Athletic Trainers (ATC). Within 24 - 48 hours post incident, the Concussion Management Team of the School of Psychology will assess the student-athlete’s cognitive and balance abilities. The post-trauma performance will be compared to the baseline performance demonstrated in the preseason assessment. If overall performance is significantly depressed compared to baseline, there is high probability that a concussion has occurred. Student-athletes may not engage in team activities until the sports medicine team determines that they have recovered their baseline performance levels.

MRI

Post-Trauma

The average time to recover from a mild concussion is 7-10 days, however some individuals may require several weeks or more to recover fully. When the students report to their athletic trainer that the concussion symptoms have ended, they are referred back to the Concussion Management Team for a follow up evaluation. If cognitive, balance, and coordination abilities also are found to have returned to normal, the athletic trainer will administer a physical exertion test to insure that intense physical exercise does not result in a return of symptoms. If all appears normal, the team physician will return the student to all activities. It is not uncommon that physical symptoms are reduced or absent but cognitive impairments remain. This is why the cognitive testing is always critical prior to the decision to return the student to full activity. Our goal is to insure that our students suffer no preventable harm from playing their sport, and that they are not asked to perform on the field or in the classroom when they are cognitively unable to give their best.

Research

Neuropsychology researchers Kevin Mulligan, Frank Webbe and the student members of the Concussion Management Team also use data from assessments of our student-athletes and others to fuel new evaluation methods and treatment approaches. Clinical Psychology doctoral students who desire to become involved in this program and gain experience in the assessment and treatment of concussion, as well as the attendant research, are welcome to contact Denise Vagt for additional information.

Members of the Concussion Management Team can expect to learn and gain experience in administering the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool-3, the computerized Concussion Resolution Index, balance and coordination tests, and external tests of effort and motivation. The team conducts baseline testing of all student athletes in preseason (mid August), and evaluates athletes for possible concussions throughout the school year. Experience in delivering the educational sessions can also be obtained. Team members must have sufficient availability to conduct trauma tests at short notice since this is an on-demand activity. Clinical students may count the educational activities, baseline testing, and trauma testing in their “Time-to-Track” folder.

Programs

Contact

School of Psychology
150 W. University Blvd.
Melbourne, FL 32901

321.674.8104
psychology@fit.edu