GATE CITY, Va. - There are more athletes visiting the emergency room for sports related head injuries than ever before, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It's leading a high school in Southwest Virginia to take extra precautions to protect student-athletes against the lasting effects of concussions.
We went to Gate City High School on Monday as they did baseline concussion testing.
Football players packed the computer lab for the ImPACT test. It asks students to complete a variety of challenges to test their ability to recall information. We're told someone with a concussion would have a hard time completing the questions.
"You can have difficulty remembering, difficulty with light, sound, that kind of stuff," said Vanessa Gilley, the athletic trainer administering the test.
Gilley told us these test results are saved and compared to a second test taken shortly after an athlete gets hit in the head.
"We can compare their new test to their baseline," said Gilley. "Instead of comparing it to a national average, we have their specific baseline."
The baseline test is good for two years so only freshman, juniors and those who haven't played a sport before are required to take it.
The only exception is if you've had a concussion in the last year, in which case you have to take it one more time.
"If we have athletes that have had concussions multiple years then we're a little more cautious about returning them to play," said Gilley. "Once you've had a concussion, you're more likely to have another concussion."
Brent Roberts, the athletic director and assistant principal at Gate City High School, told us they've given the test for four years. He said it's shown at least four to five athletes have concussions each year.
The test cost the school $600 but Roberts says it's worth it.
"No doubt about it, awareness has been raised as to concussions, even compared to seven or eight years ago," said Roberts.
He told us the more they know, the better they're able to care for the student-athletes.
The Virginia High School League requires this testing and requires coaches be taught the symptoms and immediate treatments for concussions, according to Roberts.
The football, basketball and volleyball teams all undergo the ImPACT testing, according to Gilley.
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