NASHVILLE – Implementing a cognitive testing model could help identify post-concussive symptoms in student athletes, findings from a research poster presented at the American Association of Nurse Practitioners 2014 meeting indicate.

Virginia Carreira, DNP, RN, APN, CCRN, CDE, a nurse practitioner at Long Branch High School in New Jersey, conducted a pilot study to assess the effectiveness of the Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) intervention on high school athletes.

The intervention is designed to be administered immediately after a sports injury, in order to evaluate for potential cognitive changes.

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According to the CDC, about 1.7 million people sustain traumatic brain injury every year, 200,000 of whom are athletes that are treated for concussions in the ED. A history of concussions can lead to both physical and mental decline as many as 30 years later, and returning to play too early may prolong concussive symptoms.

“The significance of long-term sequelae of post-concussion found in the literature research demonstrates importance of appropriate recovery time,” Carriera noted. “The state law recommends using [cognitive tools in order to identify] post-concussion symptoms.”

She conducted ImPACT tests on 20 students aged 14 to 21 years of age, measuring for headaches, difficulty concentrating, fatigue and drowsiness. Results of baseline examination were emailed or faxed to a neuropsychologist, school healthcare provider, or private physician for evaluation.

Fortunately, none of the study participants examined experienced a concussion during the study period, but Carreira is hoping the program can be modeled in other school athletics programs.


  1. Carreira, Virginia. “Pre- and Post-Impact Testing of Student Athletes.” American Association of Nurse Practitioners 2014 meeting. Nashville.