Local kinesiologist wants concussion baseline testing affordable for athletes

Submitted Kinesiologist Colby Wilson shows the baseline concussion program Impact at the CBI Health Centre in Moose Jaw.

In the past, athletes were supposed to be tough and have that “you got your bell rung, you’re fine, get back into the game” mentality.
Now, with so much more education out there for players and coaches, concussions and head injuries are treated a lot more seriously. Derek Kletzel, kinesiologist/manager at Moose Jaw’s CBI Health Centre wants to make it more affordable with CBI’s “Impact” baseline concussion program.
“It is a neuro-cognitive test that we do on the computer and it takes between 40 minutes to an hour,” said Kletzel. “We are trying to keep costs down and we are trying to get as many athletes in the city tested as we can.”
He added that the cost for testing is $25 for the baseline test and $10 to be rechecked 24 hours later if a concussion is suspected. Former Saskatchewan Roughrider and concussion activist Ventson Donelson told the Times-Herald recently that basic concussion testing can range from $75 to $100.
Kletzel will be meeting with Donelson this week to discuss how Impact can work with Donelson’s Mind of a Champion campaign to help student athletes get access to affordable concussion testing.
Kletzel said a couple of the things they are looking for when it comes to concussions is reaction time and memory loss.
“It’s just to get that baseline so we know where everyone scores initially before there is any kind of hit taken,” he said. “We redo the exact same test and then compare your scores.”
If a concussion has been found, the athlete will not be able to return to their sport until a doctor has signed off that they are physically fit to play again.
As well, if no concussion has been found, athletes can consult their doctor and therapy can be done for injuries to other parts of the upper body including the neck.
That being said, the protocol is continually changing as more is learned about head injuries and concussions. It’s gone from immediately getting back into the game to getting complete rest to limited activity before getting back to playing.
“The protocols of following concussions are definitely changing all the time and I know there are new articles coming out and we are trying to stay on top of it in the best way … after a concussion is suspected, but get them back to their sport as quick as they can but in a safe, timely manner,” Kletzel said.
He said so far he’s been in contact with a number of organizations, including Moose Jaw Minor Hockey, the Moose Jaw Generals Midget AAA hockey club and schools.
Moose Jaw Warriors head coach Tim Hunter, a former NHL player, said he’s been lucky enough in his pro career not to have had a concussion and to play with organizations that took head injuries seriously.
“I do know the places I played, we alway had great trainers, great doctors and it was always handled in a professional way,” Hunt said. “If a guy wasn’t feeling good, he wasn’t forced back into the line-up.”
He’s also found that there is a lot more eduction out there for players and coaches. Previously, he’s seen seminars for players about head injuries as well as a host of information about the seriousness of concussions on the Internet.
When it comes to the Western Hockey League and the Moose Jaw Warriors, they take concussions very seriously. It starts right from the beginning of the season when the Warriors have concussion baseline testing during training camp for every player to get an idea of how they react normally before taking a blow to the head.
“Any blow to the head or head snapped or the player complains at all about headaches, dizziness or seeing stars, the trainer immediately does a SCAT (Standardized Concussion Assessment Tool) test on the bench,” Hunt said. “They are asked a number of questions, and if they fail in a certain area or questions, they will go through the proper protocol.”
Kletzel said a doctor’s referral is not needed for his testing and anyone interested can call CBI Health Centre to have it set up. All results are kept on file, so if an athlete is playing out of town and potentially suffering a concussion, their files can be accessed from any CBI location.