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Published February 24, 2012, 05:59 PM

New MN Program Helping to Prevent Serious Brain Injuries in High School Athletes

CROOKSTON, MN (WDAZ-TV) - A program in Minnesota safeguards student athletes from serious brain injuries.

CROOKSTON, MN (WDAZ-TV) - A program in Minnesota safeguards student athletes from serious brain injuries.

With concussions on the rise, schools in Minnesota have implemented the "iM-pact" program to make sure its student athletes are protected from further injury and don't return to the game before they've healed.

A computer program has the ability to measure the severity of a student's injury.

"It measures their visual memory, processing speed, and so what that does then it gives them a baseline," Crookston High School athletic director Don Donarski said.

That baseline is then compared to testing after a head injury.

"Are they at the baseline, are they below it? If they're still below it then obviously they're suffering from a concussion," Donarski said.

"Make sure that they don't have further symptoms before they go back to an impact sport," physical therapist Rhonda Salentiny said.

Although the doctor makes the ultimate decision, this test eliminates a timeline for when a student returns to the sport.

"That timeframe depends on the initial severity of the concussion, really solidifies if it's safe for that student athlete to go back into play," Donarski said.

A program like this is important in schools because it takes kids more time to heal from concussions than adults.

"Very happy to have that service in terms of the Crookston athletes and I know it's been helpful in putting some parents' minds at ease," Crookston United Way president Shannon Stassen said.

Giving parents a sigh of relief next time their son or daughter has a head injury.

The United Way provided the grant to RiverView Health which allows it to test students in the area.

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