What Is the ImPACT Test?
Pioneered by experts who began the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, ImPACT® (immediate post-concussion assessment and cognitive testing) is a computer-based test.
Used across the country, ImPACT is the most effective tool for:
- Measuring a child's neurocognitive state before a concussion occurs to gather baseline data.
- Helping to successfully diagnose and manage concussions.
Baseline data can help the care team diagnose, manage, and treat a concussion because we can compare tests and chart progress.
ImPACT received FDA approval in August 2016.
What Is the Pediatric ImPACT Test?
In place of the adult test for those aged 10 and up, the Pediatric ImPACT test is for children ages 5-9.
Children are different from adults — physically, mentally, and cognitively. The children's version of ImPACT, also FDA-approved in August 2016, is mindful of these developmental differences. In fact, 89% of users rate the subtests as fun and easy to understand.
We've adapted the adult version of this thorough exam to be more effective for kids in the following ways:
- Questions are at the child's developmental level and use simple terms. For instance, we use "tummy ache" instead of nausea and “tired" rather than fatigue.
- We want to make the child feel at ease. Even something as simple as having a proper chair for them can help. Some kids get nervous sitting on the exam table and associate it with having to get a shot.
- The interviewer follows up on discrepancies between what the child reports and what the parent reports. Kids may tend to over report some issues that parents might deny, such as trouble sleeping and nausea. And parents tend to over report some issues that kids deny, such as moodiness and cognitive issues.
- The test stimuli in the Pediatric ImPACT are more suited for their age. For instance, the part that tests processing speed or reaction times becomes a “stop and go" traffic light game. And to measure visual memory, we use a matching game with animals and food.
- Children take the test on a tablet, compared to a computer, to allow for greater engagement.
Because a child's brain is still developing, it may be more prone to injury and take more time to recover.
In addition to a complete assessment, ImPACT can help with the diagnosis of a concussion. Once diagnosed, we can design a custom treatment plan and start rehab.
What to Expect During Your Child's ImPACT Test
To take part in baseline testing:
During the testing session, one parent or guardian must be in the room with the child and UPMC test administrator. It's often in a computer lab type setting.
The test presents as an educational video game on a tablet and takes about 20 minutes to complete. Even though it looks like a game, it collects the same data (reaction time, verbal/visual memory, and processing) as the adult test.
After testing, parents will get a code that lets care teams who use ImPACT to have access to their child's baseline data.
Should your child sustain a concussion after taking the baseline test, he or she should retake the test. This lets your care team compare data and learn how severe your child's concussion is.
Should you choose the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program for your child's ImPACT assessment and treatment, we will customize their care.
Learn more about ImPACT testing at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program.
Learn More About Concussions