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Oxford’s varsity sports to undergo baseline concussion testing

A month after Lafayette started a new concussion baseline testing for their athletes, Oxford is now entering into the world of head-injury prevention.

The Oxford School District announced this week the University of Mississippi Center for Health and Sports Performance will administer the ImPACT assessment (Immediate Post Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) to Oxford varsity athletes. The testing is part of an agreement between Endurance Therapy and the school district.

The varsity football team along with both boys’ and girls’ basketball and soccer teams will all be administered the baseline tests in the coming weeks. Football players began their baseline tests this week with the season already four weeks in.

The Chargers’ soccer and basketball teams will schedule theirs ahead of their seasons beginning next month.

The ImPACT test is a computerized neurocognitive exam that gears its questions toward assessing memory. With inquiries ranging from shape identification to pointing out certain colors, the test is designed to gauge how quickly the brain is reacting. There is also a balance test performed to gauge a player’s equilibrium.

This is the first time any of Oxford’s athletic teams have had baseline testing for concussions.

“I think ultimately anything we can do to promote player safety, I think our district is going to do,” Oxford football head coach Chris Cutcliffe said. “I think that’s just another tool we have to make sure our players are just as safe as possible.”

The football team started wearing guardian caps, a protective pad that fits over a helmet, during the summer and continue to wear them every practice during the week.

Football may be the poster child for concussion safety and get most of the publicity but it is not the leading sport of concussion injuries. Recent studies have shown that high school female athletes, specifically female soccer players, suffer the most concussions.

“Girls soccer is the number one sport for concussions, period,” Oxford girls’ soccer head coach Hunter Crane said. “We’ve always been aware of it. It’s always something we think about and the district being proactive is really a benefit for our group. ..the way soccer’s played, it’s a contact sport. We take balls off the head. It’s a skill that we teach and sometimes you get soccer balls that come in, glancing. That’s usually the cause of it with girls’ soccer. The ball coming in awkwardly.

Crane noted they’ve only had one player suffer a concussion over the past couple years.