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Harrison Athletics Better at Testing Head Injuries

HARRISON, N.Y. -- Harrison athletes and administrators can rest their heads a bit easier now that the Harrison Central School District implemented a new program for the fall season to better gauge concussions in all sports.

The ImPACT, or immediate post-concussion assessment and cognitive testing, is a 40-minute non-invasive computerized tool used to help doctors, psychologists, and athletic trainers determine an athlete's ability to return after suffering a concussion.

"Bottom line, this will help us treat an athlete and return him or her to play safely," said Patricia Seligman, director of health, physical education and athletics. "Most of our coaches are teachers and they are aware of proper sports techniques and new technologies. They are looking out for the best interest of their athletes."

According to Monica Miles, communications officer at Harrison schools, the test evaluates attention process, word identification, reaction speed, processing speed, concentration and recognition memory. The district has also purchased 63 new Ridell Revolution Speed helmets for use in varsity, junior varsity and modified football to stay ahead of head injuries.

The evaluation process involves a post-concussion ImPACT test 24 to 48 hours after an injury and results are reviewed by a neuropsychologist. There is later a five-step exertion test the athlete must pass, which is repeated if failed.

The entire process involves a week for full rehabilitation and the Harrison chief school medical officer makes the final determination, Miles said.

Seligman and the athletics department have given baseline brain activity tests using ImPACT to over 550 students including football players, cheerleaders and remaining fall athletes in grades seven through 12 this summer. Athletes will be tested every two years, Miles said.

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