MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- It’s not your typical high school exam. It is a neurological cognitive test Mooresville High School football players will be required to take before the start of the upcoming season.
Football player Chase Wilson spearheaded efforts to get the Mooresville Graded School District to go beyond what the state law mandates concerning athletes in high-impact sports.
"As a player, you always want to go in and keep going-- no matter what's wrong, cause that's what we are taught,” says Wilson, a long snapper and offensive tackle who played football for most of his life. “But honestly if we knew what was at risk, we would be a little bit more cautious.”
Wilson focused his Senior thesis on what is known as the “Second Impact Syndrome” and what happens when a player receives a concussion and receives another hit to the head. His research prompted him to set out a campaign to get the School Board to administer a test called, ImPact (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing).
“You take the baseline test and if you have a suspected concussion you come back in and retake the test,” says Wilson who took the test before making his presentation before the School Board.
Hannah Pierce, the school’s Athletic Trainer is in charge of administering the test. She says the online test takes about 30 minutes to complete and it will be given before the upcoming season, 15 students at a time.
“It tests their reaction time to certain stimulus, whether it be counting, patterns or how fast and slow they can answer the questions that come up,” explains Pierce.
The test is also used by medical personnel in professional sports. Pierce says no matter how an athlete behaves, test results will take away much of the guesswork when determining the extent of injury.
“With this baseline test we basically have a more concrete answer for athletes, parents and for ourselves.” Pierce says the pre-season baseline test will be compared with the test results given 48 hours after a concussion.
In 2011, the Gfeller-Waller Concussion Awareness Acts was signed into law, requiring public schools to pull students if they show signs of a concussion. The law was named after Matthew Gfeller and Jaquan Waller, two North Carolina high school students who died from injuries sustained on the field.
Wilson hopes his efforts keep injured players off the field, lessening the chance of a second impact, which can be deadly. Some may see the tests as an inconvenience, but Wilson is convinced having that peace of mind in the end, makes it all worth it.
“My teammates didn't mind it because they knew exactly what it protected them against. All players may not get a concussion this year, but the few that do will be grateful they had this test.”