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Dear Ellington Parents,
Over the past several years there has been increased awareness of what impact a concussion can have on a young athlete.    On average 250,000 children visit hospital emergency rooms each year for concussion and other traumatic brain injuries, most attributed to sports and recreation related accidents.    Because concussions are such a critical issue, the Ellington Parks and Recreation Department has put into place a formal program to increase concussion awareness, prevention and assist in injury management.    The cornerstone to this program is the availability of the ImPact Concussion Baseline Tool for athletes participating in Recreation Department sponsored sports.   The ImPACT tool is an online test that can assist in the diagnosis and management of a concussion.  This is the most-widely used and most scientifically validated concussion evaluation solutions available today.   It is used by most professional sports teams, colleges and high school programs; and Ellington is one of the first towns in the State of Connecticut to offer this to their athletes.   Although taking the test is not a requirement for participating in our programs, we highly encourage each eligible player to take the baseline test (testing instructions can be found at the bottom of this email).  
Concussions are serious business, and we want to do everything we can to protect each and every child in the town of Ellington.    I would like to ask you to for three favors:
1.  Please sit down with your family and watch the following youtube message from Emma Dolen, a ninth grader from Ellington who sustained a serious concussion last year.  Emma would like to share her story with each of you in hopes that it make you more aware of the impact a concussion can have on a young athlete.


2.  Take the time to review the information below on concussions, concussion prevention and management of an injury.  Information is Power!
3.  If you child is eligible to take the test please consider doing so as soon as possible.   The testing instructions are listed below, please do not hesitate to call our office if you have any questions or concerns.
Bob Tedford
Director, Ellingon Parks and Recreation

Concussion Awareness Information

What is a Concussion?
A concussion is a type off traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that can change the way the brain normally works. Concussions can also occur from a fall or a blow to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. 
What are the symptoms of a concussion?
Symptoms of a concussion fall into four categories:
1.  Trouble Thinking (difficultly remembering information, concentrating, feeling slowed down)
2.  Physical Changes (headaches, nausea, vomiting, etc)
3.  Emotional changes (Irritability, anxiety, sadness, etc)
4.  Changes in sleep patterns (too much, too little and can't get to sleep).
If you suspect that your child has received a concussion or is showing any of these symptoms seek medical attention immediately!
What is the impact of a concussion?
Most people with a concussion recover quickly and fully, but for some people symptoms can last for days, weeks, or longer.  Most concerning are the repercussions of athletes returning to play too soon, recent studies have shown that if a "concussed" athlete returns to play too soon they are at increased risk of another, and more serious concussion.   These repeated concussions have very serious consequences, thus proper management of an initial injury is extremely important.
Where can I find more information on concussions?
One of the best places for information is the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/).   Please do not hesitate to contact your family physician or child's physician for additional information.
How does the ImPact Test work?
ImPACT tests the cognitive abilities of the athlete, it does this through a series of questions that asks the child to recognize shapes, remember numbers, colors and symbols.   The test does not produce a score on how intelligent or smart the child is, but rather how their brain works.   The output of the test is a report with a series of numbers that mean absolutely nothing to a regular person, but for a trained physician provides invaluable insights on how the child's brain functioned prior to the injury.  
The test measures multiple aspects of cognitive functioning in athletes, including:
·         Attention span
·         Working memory
·         Sustained and selective attention time
·         Response variability
·         Non-verbal problem solving
·         Reaction time
If a child were to sustain a concussion a doctor would typically order a re-test and then compare the post-concussion test results with the base line results, thus providing them an objective measure of the child's post-injury condition and track recovery for safe return to play.  
Who is eligible to take the test?
The test is designed for any child 10 years and older.  A pediatric version of the test for younger players is currently in development and will be released within a year.