TOWNSEND -- Nowadays in high school and youth sports a large emphasis is placed on player safety.
North Middlesex Regional High School athletic director James Bunnell, who is in his second season, recognized that it is important for both players and parents to be aware of the symptoms of a concussion.
The Patriots have the benefit of a full-time athletic director on its staff. Last year, the North Middlesex Athletic Dept. recorded a reported 30 concussions -- with 20 in the fall. The majority occurred in girls' soccer.
Midland B league rival Groton-Dunstable adopted the IMPACT system last fall, but participation in the system was voluntary.
"Last year we did what was required of the law for both parents and student athletes to complete video training online," Bunnell said.
"We have our own concussion protocol and all of our coaches are familiar with it. Not many schools have a full-time trainer and our's, Melissa, is great. She was the one when we talked about baseline testing she was excited and all for it."
Bunnell and one of the school nurses went to a concussion conference at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro to learn about the all the recent developments in the medical field regarding concussion prevention.
"When you look at the laws that people are trying to put into place," Bunnell said.
"There is a need out there for concussion testing. If we can provide it to these kids without them going to the doctors, we are just adding that extra level of security to our athletes' parents.
The IMPACT Concussion testing system provides medical personnel, such as the athletic trainer, with a point of cognitive comparison in the event of a head injury.
Prior to the use of IMPACT athletes would go to their doctor and be subjected to general baseline testing for their particular age group.
"It is mandatory for all athletes to complete the test," Bunnell said.
"The test is good for two-years, and if the student is a multi-sport athlete, he-or-he has to only take it once. It is at no additional cost to the students, it is included in the $150 user fee. We are able to conduct follow-up tests as well, heaven forbid someone gets a concussion. We are able to provide that information to the doctor and progress the athlete back on the field at the safest rate possible."
IMPACT testing is relatively cheap to the athletics department budget at $800-per-year.
The football team completed the test on Monday before its first day of conditioning.
"For the low cost and the service it provides to the kids, it is just needed," Bunnell said.
"Everybody has taken it as of Friday. When a lot of people come in, they really don't know what it was. It test their mental processing speed and reaction time.
The kids are taking it seriously and not goofing off.
"I know the parents are very supportive of the safety level we are providing for our athletes. In this day-and-age of athletics, safety is the most important thing."