Treatment at Mayo Clinic

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Concussion testing is a brain function (neurocognitive) test that evaluates your brain's current thinking (cognitive) function. The test, also called baseline concussion testing or neurocognitive testing, is conducted to determine your current level of brain function.

This test may be repeated often, especially in younger athletes whose brains develop and change over time.

After a concussion, testing may be repeated and compared to the previous test to determine whether a change has occurred, and the extent of the change. It can also be used as a guide to determine when the brain has recovered from a concussion.

Online cognitive test

Baseline concussion testing is often available using computerized tests. Computerized baseline concussion testing offers a fast, efficient way for many athletes to test their normal brain function, or baseline level of function.

All Mayo Clinic campuses offer online cognitive tests for baseline concussion testing. The tests take about 15 minutes to complete. Athletes or parents can choose to share the results with their doctor, athletic trainer and other health care providers.

After a concussion

In the days and weeks after your concussion, the computerized concussion test may be repeated several times. This test is one of the tools that doctors may use to determine when your brain function has returned to normal. Doctors may use this test and other tests to decide when you may be able to safely resume normal activities.

However, if tests show your brain function has returned to normal, but you're still experiencing symptoms from your concussion, then doctors will advise you not to return to sports until your symptoms are gone. Although many concussions resolve quickly, some athletes may experience symptoms for weeks, months or longer.

After you've had a concussion, doctors will also review your history and symptoms and perform a neurologic examination to test your balance and other brain functions. A doctor trained in brain and mental health conditions (neuropsychologist) may assess changes in brain function.

An integrated team of neurologists, neuropsychologists, sports medicine specialists and others will evaluate you and manage your symptoms. Your treatment team will determine when you're able to return to sports, school and other activities.

Risks after a concussion

If you continue to play or return to play too early after a concussion, there is a significant risk that you may experience another concussion. A second concussion while the initial concussion is healing can result in fatal brain swelling (second impact syndrome).

Repeat concussions can take longer to heal. Also, repeat concussions have a higher risk of causing permanent nervous system (neurological) damage.

Children, teens and female athletes may be at a higher risk of concussions than are others, and their recovery may be longer.

Individuals who have had a concussion should not return to play or activities until all symptoms have ceased and they have been seen by a health care professional with expertise in evaluating and treating people with brain injuries such as concussion.

May 15, 2013