Concussion management

A concussion is any blow to the head that can cause a number or symptoms ranging from headaches to loss of consciousness. This includes a “ding” or “getting your bell rung”.  

No head injury should be considered insignificant. 

There are many possible long term effects of repeated concussions or returning to play too soon after sustaining one.  

It is important to realize the symptoms and alert a medical professional as soon as a concussion is suspected.

Complications of concussion can be quite serious especially if an athlete returns to play prematurely. 

Second Impact Syndrome is a lethal, poorly understood, complication of concussion and occurs when a symptomatic athlete returns to play and has a second head trauma. This “second impact” causes brain swelling and herniation that can (in rare cases) result in death. Far more common is a prolonged recovery. With cumulative concussions, athletes have been noted to have repeat concussions with less impact and prolonged recoveries, sometimes leading to early retirement from contact sports. 

Return to Play After Being “Cleared From A Concussion”

Once the athlete is cleared by a physician, a gradual return to play process may begin. The process will progress at a rate of one step per day, as long as an athlete remains symptom-free.

Day 1: Light aerobic activity (jogging, stationary bike, sit ups, etc. low intensity 10-15 minutes) 

Day 2: High Intensity Aerobic exercise (running, quick speed work on stationary bike) High intensity, moderate speed, 20-25 minutes

Day 3: Cardio circuit/sports specific.  Burpees, jump squats, ladder drills, sports specific drills)

Day 4: Non-contact practice

Day 5: Full practice

If symptoms recur at any point during this stepwise progression, the athlete should return to the previous level and wait for 24 hours before attempting further advancement. 

A conservative approach is needed when dealing with young athletes with developing brains (athletes < 18 years of age). 


In order to help better manage concussions sustained by our student-athletes, Perkiomen Valley School District currently uses the ImPACT (Immediate Post Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) program, which was founded and developed by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Sports Concussion Program. 

ImPACT is a non-invasive computerized exam utilized by many professional, collegiate, and high school sports programs across the country to successfully diagnose and manage concussions. It tracks information such as memory, reaction time, speed, and concentration. It is not an IQ test.


ImPACT baseline tests are required for student-athletes participating in identified, contact-collision sports or events (football, field hockey, soccer, water polo, volleyball, basketball, wrestling, swimming/diving, baseball, softball, lacrosse, and pole vault).  If a student-athlete was given a baseline test last year, he/she is not required to complete a baseline test again for this school year. However, students diagnosed with a concussion last year are encouraged to complete another baseline test.

In order to take a baseline test, a student must know his/her PVSD account name and password. High school student-athletes should report to the main entrance of the high school building, just outside the main office. From that location, high school student-athletes will be escorted to a computer lab or library for the test. The test takes approximately 45-60 minutes to complete. Please do not arrive late or after the advertised test time. You will not be permitted to join the test group once they have started the exam.


ImPACT baseline tests are administered to student-athletes participating in identified, contact-collision sports or events (football, field hockey, soccer, volleyball and water polo). However, PVSD student-athletes participating in other sports may be tested if they wish.

Student-athletes not tested last year must be tested this year. In addition, students diagnosed with a concussion last year are directed to complete another baseline test at this time.

Middle school student-athletes will be tested at the start of the school year.

If a concussion is suspected, the athlete will be required to re-take the test. Both the preseason and post-injury test data will be shared with the athlete’s parent(s), physician or neuropsychologist. The test data will enable these health professionals to evaluate the injury and determine when return-to-play is appropriate and safe for the injured athlete. If an injury of this nature occurs to your child, you will be contacted with the details. Students injured at home or in a non-school related event will not be tested.

The ImPACT program currently provides the best available information for managing concussions and preventing the potential brain damage that can occur with multiple concussions.