Concussion / Impact Testing


A concussion is defined as a transient alteration in brain function without structural damage. The damage to the brain is at a microscopic level in which cells and cell membranes are torn and stretched. The damages to these cells also disrupt the brain at a chemical level as well as causing restricted blood flow to the damaged areas of the brain, thereby disrupting brain function. A concussion, therefore, is a disruption in how the brain works; it is not a structural injury. Concussions are difficult to diagnosis because the injury cannot be seen. An MRI or CT scan cannot diagnosis a concussion, but they can help rule out a more serious brain injury to a student. Because concussions are difficult to detect, student athletes, in particular, must obtain medical approval before returning to athletics following a concussion.

The signs and symptoms are many, as can be reported by an adult observing the student or by the student him/herself:

Signs (what you see):

  • Confusion
  • Forgets plays
  • Unsure about game, score, opponent, event
  • Altered coordination
  • Balance problems
  • Personality change
  • Slow response to questions
  • Forgets events prior to injury (retrograde amnesia)
  • Forgets events after injury (anterograde amnesia)
  • Loss of consciousness (any duration)

Symptoms (reported by student):

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Double vision/ blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Sensitivity to noise (tinnitus)
  • Feels sluggish
  • Feels foggy
  • Problems concentrating
  • Problems remembering
  • Trouble with sleeping/ excess sleep
  • Dizziness
  • Sadness
  • Seeing stars
  • Vacant stare/ glassy eyed
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Inappropriate emotions

If any of the above signs and symptoms is observed after a suspected blow to the head, jaw, spine or body they are indicative of a concussion and the student must be removed from play immediately and not allowed to return until cleared by an appropriate allied health professional.


Impact Testing Information

The Impact Baseline Test (Immediate Post Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Test) is a computerized exam that is given to student-athletes prior to participating in practice or competition. The non-invasive, non-academic test is set up in a "computer game" format and takes approximately 15-20 minutes to complete. Throughout the test, Impact tracks and records the student-athlete's memory, reaction time, speed, and concentration.

Upon suffering a suspected head injury, the student-athlete may then retake the Impact Test and bring both sets of data to their primary care physician or equivalent for diagnosis. (Belchertown High School staff members do not diagnose concussions, but may hold a student-athlete out of participation in the event that the student-athlete sustains a head injury.) More information regarding the Impact program can be found at


Starting with the 2012-2013 school year:


  •      All incoming 9th and 11th grade student-athletes, as well as any student-athletes who are new to Belchertown HS, must take/retake
        their Impact Baseline Test prior to participating on any athletic team.
  •      Impact Baseline Testing will be supervised by either the athletic trainer or the athletic director.
  •      More information, and potentially more dates/times, will be posted as the information becomes available.