At a time of increasing emphasis on figuring out ways to identify and deal with concussions among teenagers in sports competition, Loyola High School, an all-boys Catholic school in Los Angeles, has taken the unprecedented step of requiring all 1,270 of its students, even if they are not athletes, to undergo baseline testing.
More than 500 of the students have already completed the 45-minute exam administered by longtime athletic trainer Tim Moscicki and his assistants that assesses the student's balance and brain functions so it can be used and compared with a similar exam if the student is suspected of having a concussion.
As for why non-athletes are being given the test, Principal Frank Kozakowski said the school has experienced increased numbers of students being diagnosed with concussions from such activities as skateboarding and snowboarding and wants a way to know when the student is ready to return to the classroom or the athletic field.
"The idea of having a baseline for everyone is a good thing," Kozakowski said. "Having concrete data, this baseline test, it's a great aid for doctors, teachers and parents."
Several years ago, the school required every student to have a physical, and just this past school year, Kozakowski said a student's life was saved when the physical revealed the need for immediate surgery.
Moscicki, the trainer for 25 years, has been giving baseline tests for football players since 2006. It involves using computer software and testing the athlete's memory skills and ability to solve problems, then filing the results so they can be used if needed. Loyola is paying for the cost estimated at $5,000. Moscicki will maintain the information and follow HIPAA privacy rules. Parents can request to receive the information.
On Monday, more than 100 Loyola students lined up to be tested.
"It's good information to have for any student who is coming back from a concussion to know how much they can do," Kozakowski said. "Without a baseline, it's so fuzzy."
Moscicki said he doesn't know of any other school where the entire student body has undergone baseline testing.
"I feel having everyone baselined for concussions makes educational sense," Kozakowski said.