The past decades have seen growing evidence and concern for the treatment of concussions, particularly in athletes. One of the main concerns for athletes who have sustained a concussion is when they can return to the game. A new FDA approved device now has the answer.

The Immediate Post-Concussive Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPact) is a research-based software tool that evaluates recovery after a concussion. ImPact evaluates a variety of brain functions including memory, attention, processing speed, reaction time, and other post-concussion symptoms.

ImPact has been tested on athletes at both the amateur and professional levels of sports and can serve as an objective resource for managing concussions. Because the brain is most vulnerable after it has sustained a concussion, it is crucial that athletes do not return to the game until they are completely healed.

As the first of its kind, the FDA had to create a new category of medical devices for ImPact’s approval. While ImPact has been used by thousands of athletes, its FDA approval confirms its safety and efficacy, and now makes it the go-to source for concussion management. More than 7,400 high schools, 1,000 universities, 900 clinics, and 200 professional teams currently use ImPact to manage the recovery of athletes.

For many athletes, ImPact comes too late to avoid further injuries. Professional organizations like the National Football League (NFL) as well as many collegiate organizations like the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) face lawsuits alleging players were not adequately warned or treated for concussions sustained during play.

The NFL has offered a settlement for players experiencing long-term effects of concussions, but the NCAA lawsuits are in the very early stages. If nothing else, the lawsuit should help encourage universities and sports organizations to implement procedures and treatments like ImPact that will help better protect athletes from concussions.