Caring for kids requires precautionary measures

April 20, 2012

Justin Allphin (right), Fort Scott Community

College certified athletic trainer, evaluates

an athlete for a concussion.

Caring for kids often requires precautionary measures.  Whether buckling a helmet before a bicycle ride or training a child to always look both ways before crossing a street, actions like this can help save a child’s life.

Those called to Mercy’s health care ministry understand that caring for children requires unique qualities.  For this reason, Mercy hospitals across a four-state service area have set aside May 1 as Mercy Day of the Child to recognize and honor providers who deliver care to young people.

“In our health care ministry, we look for proactive means to educate our youth and keep children from injury,” said Reta Baker, president of Mercy Hospital Fort Scott.  “One such way is through a collaborative effort by Mercy Clinic physicians, Mercy Auxiliary, Mercy Rehabilitation Services, Fort Scott Community College (FSCC) and Fort Scott High School to offer student athletes ImPACT testing beginning this fall.”

Some 300 student athletes will be evaluated by a baseline ImPACT test. Each exam is expected to take 30 to 45 minutes.

“We are pleased the USD234 school board agrees the ImPACT testing will help keep kids from returning to play prior to adequate healing of the brain,” Baker added.

ImPACT is one of the first and most widely used computerized concussion evaluation systems.  ImPACT stands for Immediate Post-concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing.  It does not replace other post-concussion evaluation systems but is to be used in conjunction with them in order to more accurately assess an athlete’s condition following a concussion. 

If the athlete sustains a concussion during the season, the typical sideline exam will be administered.  Twenty-four to 72 hours after the injury, the first post-concussion ImPACT exam can be administered.  The test must be administered by an athletic trainer or a physician.  

Results of the ImPACT test will be paired with personal evaluations done prior to the sport season by the certified athletic trainer or physician to determine if it is safe for the athlete to return to activity.  An athlete can do as many tests as needed, with about 48 hours between tests.  The athlete may return to play once specific protocols are met, including normal ImPACT scores.

“FSCC invested in the ImPACT software a couple of years ago,” said Eric Baldonado, Mercy’s rehab services director.   “Now with financial support by Mercy Auxiliary and medical expertise by Mercy Clinic physicians, Fort Scott High School athletes will have access to the same level of quality care.  This is just one more way to demonstrate the concern Mercy Hospital has for the athlete’s safety and long-term well being.”

The Mercy Auxiliary provided $2,400 that Baldonado said would allow three to six years of ImPACT testing for high school athletes.

The ImPACT program has proven to be a good investment for FSCC; offering unbiased data and assurance it is safe for the athlete to participate.

"FSCC first heard about the ImPact software at one of our regional meetings in 2010,” stated J.D. Ettore, FSCC Athletic Director.  “After talking with Mercy leadership, we felt obtaining this software for FSCC student-athletes was a top priority."

"FSCC is thrilled to play a part in expanding the use of this software to FSHS because we know firsthand how much it will assist our local high school student-athletes.”

“What makes this test great is that while the athlete may say they feel better, the test can properly assess brain function and response,” said Justin Allphin, FSCC Certified Athletic Trainer. “It creates accountability between the athletes and the clinicians.” 

“There are many cases throughout the country where an athlete passed a loosely conducted return-to-play protocol when their brain has not yet completely healed,” Allphin explained.  “Our hopes are that the ImPACT tests can decrease the number of second-impact syndromes seen in youth, high school, and collegiate athletes.”

In the professional ranks, the NHL mandates that every team use ImPACT.  A large number of NFL and MLB teams have followed suit. 

“Supporting this program is simply the right thing to do,” said Annamarie Holmes, Mercy Clinic director. 

“Mercy’s physicians are passionate about injury prevention,” added Holmes.  “Dr. P.K. Gugnani and Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner Greg King are completing ImPACT training and will assist with the program.”

For more information about the Mercy Sports Medicine program, call Eric Baldonado at 620-223-7029 or visit

Mercy is the eighth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 31 hospitals, more than 200 outpatient facilities, 38,000 co-workers and 1,600 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. For more about Mercy, visit

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