words // Nick Engvall
In the NBA, athletes like Chris Paul, Monta Ellis and Ron Artest are arguably are some of the most talented players in the game. In the NFL, Steve Young, Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers and Tim Tebow, are the top quarterbacks of the past, present, and future. In the NHL, Marian Gaborik and Sidney Crosby are a couple of the top scorers in the league. Aside from being some of the best at their respective sports, all of these have one thing in common that is often forgotten after the stat sheet is filled. Each of these athletes has suffered a concussion, and for some it’s happened more times than once.
In recent weeks even, there has been another Hall-of-Fame quarterback speak up about the long-term dangers of concussions. Terry Bradshaw, who is now 62 years old, seems to be suffering some long-term effects that he believes is due to the six (known) concussions he suffered during is legendary career. There is no doubt that he, along with countless other athletes at every level of competitive sports, suffered more than what is accounted for.
A concussion is an alteration in brain function that is typically temporary. It can show in many different ways, such as short term memory loss, headaches, and other physical symptoms like impaired vision, speech, or thinking. There is no doubt that concussions should be a serious concern for athletes, parents, and coaches. How to identify and manage them in athletes, however, can be even more difficult to understand than concussions themselves.
Axon Sports has created a simple online tool used in the management of sports-related concussions. It is called the Axon Sports Computerized Cognitive Assessment Tool (CCAT). Athletes establish Baseline or “snapshots” of their brains’ speed and accuracy. Repeating the same tasks After Injury helps identify any cognitive changes from the Baseline, which when interpreted by a qualified medical provider can be invaluable information. It takes only a short amount of time to take your first ‘Baseline’ test which, depending on whether you’re an athlete, parent, or coach, can be shared and organized in a variety of ways. For instance, coaches can group their athletes together by team if they wanted to do so, by creating a group for each team and adding their athletes to the group, and making it easy to find and reference when needed. Axon makes it easy to share the results with coaching staff, athletes or family as well, by simply adding an email address to the list and sending an Easy Link of the results to whomever needs it.
After I registered for my account on www.axonsports.com, it took me about ten minutes to go through my baseline test. By the time I clicked out of the testing window my results were compiled and waiting for me. It’s interesting to see the results from the various tasks that are measured, including Processing Speed, Attention, Learning and Working Memory. The system is easy to use and very straightforward. My one suggestion would be to make sure you are free from distractions. A cell phone, TV, radio or people around you are much more distracting than you might think.
For coaches and parents, Axon Sports has set up everything right to provide an easy and effective way to keep up with your children, students and young athletes. For athletes themselves, the results are intriguing and a helpful way for you to not only learn about yourself, but make sure you are prepared before competing. The Axon Sports mission of protecting and training the athletic brain and the Concussion Testing is a great resource to help keep athletes safe, on the right track, and by sharing the results with your medical provider you can use it to better understand an athlete’s cognitive function.