MARQUETTE - Northern Michigan University researchers are looking for area hockey and soccer players 5 to 11 years old to participate in a study that will help to define parameters for the only computerized concussion evaluation system for children.
ImPACT, or Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing, is already used at the high school through professional levels to help determine when it is safe for athletes to return to play. NMU will beta test the version for younger players before it becomes widely available.
Researchers hope to recruit 100 volunteers from within a one-hour radius of Marquette. Participants will take three brief tests, including an initial baseline and follow-ups at one week and one month.
The interactive tests are administered on iPads with assistance from NMU certified athletic trainers and graduate students. They use games to measure short and long-term memory, motor processing speed, visual memory and reaction time.
The goal is to develop normative values that can be entered into the software system, increasing its effectiveness as a concussion management tool.
ImPACT co-founder Mark Lovell, an NMU alumnus and neuropsychological consultant for several professional sports organizations, contributed $50,000 to the project.
"We can go to the kids to make it convenient, whether it's before or after practice, at a library or in their homes," said Maggy Moore, project supervisor and NMU professor of health, physical education and recreation. "It's a one-on-one process. The goal when we get funding for phase 2 will be to study those who've suffered concussions and determine what is normal.
"It's hard to tell with young kids because all they know is that they feel funny. Their brains heal more slowly than adults. They've been underrepresented in the research."
To register for the study, contact Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 227-2228.