Madison (WKOW) -- More than 300-thousand sports-related concussions are reported each year in the U.S.
Current research seems to suggest that younger athletes should be treated as conservatively as possible since the developing brian may recover differently than in an adult.
And now a new tool being used here in Madison is helping athletes, coaches and medical staff know with greater certainty, when an athlete is ready to return to the field after a head injury.
It's called the Impact Test, and it's already used by the Wisconsin Badgers, the Green Bay Packers, the Milwaukee Brewers, and a handful of other professional sports teams.
And now, it's also available to area high school athletes.
UW Health Certified Athletic Trainer Joe Greene says, it's a way to give us some objective data, not just subjective data.
It's an on-line test given to athletes ideally, before the sports season starts.
"This test really looks closely at the ability to concentrate and process information, says Greene.
The 20 minute test is divided into 4 parts.
"You have to remember words you have seen. Also symbols and shapes"
It gives them a baseline, and if a concussion does occur, the athlete would then re-take the same test, and doctors would have something to compare the results to.
Mcfarland is one of two area high schools making the impact test available to all student athletes.
Mt. Horeb is the other.
Mcfarland Athletic Trainer Jay Hanson says, "We've had about 130 kids from Mcfarland take the test."
Hanson says it's a vital tool, especially for those young athletes determined to play.
"Before the test was available, we were going basically on symptoms. Do you have a headache? Do you feel sick? Are you dizzy? Is everything going okay in school? Those are all subjective, and they are things kids can be dishonest about. We don't have any way of knowing if they are telling the truth.", says Hanson.
He hopes one day, all high schools will make the impact test available to thier student-athletes.
But in the meantime, if your high school doesn't offer it, your child can still be tested.
"Their is an application where you can go on-line (wisportsconcussion.org) as a parent, and have your son or daughter take the test. It costs 10 dollars for that test."
A small price to pay for information, that could potentially be life saving.
A concussion has the potential for long term physical, cognitive and psychological effects.
Those who have sustained a head injury, like a concussion, are two to four times more likely to have another head injury, which is why Greene says it's vital to know how an athlete is really doing before they return to play.