A brain-screening program introduced in three schools in the Diocese of Wilmington last spring has been expanded to include nine schools and will eventually be available to students at every school in the diocese.
Baseline testing by the Mid-Atlantic Concussion Alliance arrived at Saint Mark’s High School on Nov. 30. Freshmen spent a few minutes visiting the nurse’s office, where a retired police officer with experience as an emergency medical technician directed them through the Eye Guide test.
Joe Collins has joined the MAC Alliance as the baseline program coordinator. According to the alliance’s director of communications, Margo Trott Collins, his addition has allowed them to streamline testing and get to more students.
Joe Collins said the previous standard for establishing baselines was impact testing, which took about 20 minutes. The new technology tracks eye movements and collects about 1,200 data points in about 10 seconds. It began last spring at St. John the Beloved, Holy Angels and St. Peter Cathedral schools.
The other schools included in the program thus far are Christ the Teacher, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Elizabeth, St. Mary Magdalen, and St. Peter the Apostle.
“We’re going to see what this young man’s baseline looks like now, and God forbid he gets a head injury, we’ll be able to get him to a center that has the Eye Guide, get him another Eye Guide tracking test, compare the two, and they’ll be able to see the severity of the injury, and they’ll be able to — along with some other tests — it will help guide what his treatment will be,” Collins said while testing a freshman.
Eye Guide uses an infrared camera that locks in on a patient’s pupil.
Collins said the MAC Alliance has plans to expand baseline testing to first responders. They are susceptible to all kinds of injuries, he noted.
The diocese first teamed up with MAC Alliance in 2014, offering a pilot program that offered baseline brain-function testing. That program aimed to test all students in Catholic schools and all youngsters playing Catholic Youth Ministry football.