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GMC introduces sports injury program

LAWRENCEVILLE - Statistics recently released by the American Medical Association show that nearly two million sports-related concussions occur each year, with 85 percent of those going unrecognized.

To improve the standard of care for high school athletes afflicted with concussions, Gwinnett Medical Center's sports medicine program is introducing ImPACT - Immediate Post-concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing - to better manage head injuries. Gwinnett is the first county in Georgia to implement the program, hospital officials say.

Dr. Scott Maughon, orthopedic surgeon and GMC sports medicine committee chairperson, said ImPACT will help medical professionals and school athletic trainers determine whether it's safe for an athlete to return to play and could reduce the chance of repeated concussions. A 20-minute test can be administered in the pre-season for baseline and post-injury data that can track the affects of a concussion, he said.

Concussions, which can be caused by violent blows to the head, are especially worrisome because the majority of victims have residual memory loss.

"This program will improve the management and outcomes of concussions that occur in Gwinnett County's high school athletes," Maughon said.

Dr. Mat Pombo, who has recently joined GMC after completing fellowship research in Pittsburgh, presented information about the program to the county's high school athletic directors earlier this month.

"We need to do a better job with (concussions) because it can have significant impact on a student athlete's performance in the classroom as well as the risks associated with another head impact on the field," he said.