Free State, Lawrence High adopt new concussion tests

Student-athletes at Lawrence and Free State high schools will now have access to one of the most widely used concussion-testing systems available.

With the Lawrence school district administration signing off on the plan this past week, Lawrence Memorial Hospital will provide LHS and FSHS athletes with access to ImPACT (immediate post-concussion assessment and cognitive testing), a computerized system widely used in the college and professional ranks. The test will be available to athletes in every sport when the new school year begins.

ImPACT is a baseline neurocognitive test that measures how an individual’s brain works in its normal state. Using that information, it is easier to track any changes in the brain’s function after a concussion and determine when an athlete can safely return to participation in practices and competition.

Free State athletic director Mike Hill said ImPACT will be available on a voluntary basis — there is no mandate stating that every athlete must utilize it.

“It’s just an extra tool that parents can use to help ensure the safety of their kids,” Hill said, adding he thought it was important to give city athletes this option. “For my kids, would I want this available? Absolutely, I would.”

Lawrence High athletic trainer Jeremy Goates also was glad the city’s athletes will have access to ImPACT.

“I think it’s a really good program,” he said, “and the main key is it really helps to assist myself and the doctors on when to return athletes to play.”

Physicians ultimately make the return-to-play call, Goates said. ImPACT, he added, helps everyone involved look past sports and determine what is best for an individual in the long run.

“It really puts the athlete’s health in No. 1 priority,” Goates said.

Hill said LMH will pay for the testing, and a representative from the hospital will be present at the high schools’ upcoming fall sports meetings to provide a thorough explanation of the process.

The LHS fall sports meeting will be at 6:30 p.m., Aug. 5 at the LHS auditorium.

Free State will have its sports parent meeting at 6:30 p.m., Aug. 8, at the FSHS auditorium.

According to ImPACT’s website,, the test takes roughly 20 minutes to complete and measures “multiple aspects of cognitive functioning in athletes, including: attention span, working memory, sustained and selective attention time, response variability, non-verbal problem solving and reaction time.”