HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Last school year, 486 Hawaii public school athletes suffered concussions, impact injuries that rattle the brain.
"Once a kid is concussed, there's a step-wise process for this kid to get back to school, back onto the field," said Ross Oshiro, who heads Hawaii's Concussion Management Program.
The group is urging every high school athlete to complete a computer test that measures reaction time, memory and concentration, and a physical test that measures balance. The results form a baseline score that makes it easier to measure recovery after a concussion. Athletes are re-tested and sidelined until results match their baseline numbers.
Without a baseline measurement, recovery's a guessing game.
"Concussion affects everything going on with the mind, focus, concentration, memory, and as we see with the balance, the motor-processes," said Tom Wahl, who helps administer the tests.
Baseline testing is voluntary for public school student athletes, but some private schools are making it mandatory.
The Concussion Management Program hopes to have 25,000 student athletes tested this year. It will hold a Concussion Awareness Clinic at UH July 26. Oshiro will teach school staff and parents what they can do to help injured athletes.
"Because the trainer and doctor won't be with them 24 hours, it's important they know what to look for," Sacred Hearts Academy athletic director Wade Okamura said.
"We need to take some things away from the kids -- texting, video games, computers -- as much as possible within that first 24 to 72 hours. Give the brain time to recover," Oshiro said.
It takes about three weeks to recover from a concussion. Completing a baseline measurement takes less than hour. But it can help to know when a kid with a concussion is really ready to get back in the game.