Is Baseline Concussion Testing Right For You?

November 2, 2021

Did you know there’s a test that can aid your recovery if you sustain a concussion?

Read on to get the facts about baseline testing from Michelle Gambino-Gorney, a certified athletic trainer for Henry Ford Health System.

What Is Baseline Concussion Testing?

“Baseline testing is an evaluation of your normal brain function that tests for neurocognitive abnormalities,” explains Gambino-Gorney. “We recommend baseline testing prior to the start of a sports season, before tryouts or practice.”

During baseline concussion testing, athletic trainers or physicians collect extensive information about an athlete’s brain health. They evaluate health, family history and neurocognitive function. Gambino-Gorney says that might include assessing everything from balance and reflexes to memory, vision and concentration. “If the athlete does sustain a concussion during the season, we can compare pre-injury test results to post-injury test results and find out how the injury is affecting an athlete’s brain. It helps us make the right recovery plan and determine when it’s safe for them to return to their sport.”

Myth: Concussion Baseline Testing Is Only for Football Players

While baseline testing is ideal for athletes (ages 9 and up) who play high-impact collision sports, any athlete at risk of a concussion should consider baseline testing. This includes football, lacrosse and hockey players, in addition to gymnasts, snowboarders, skateboarders and lots of other athletes.

In fact, even if you just take the occasional weekend bike ride, go jogging or lift weights, there’s no harm in having baseline test results on file. Pre-concussion screenings can also benefit people with physically demanding jobs, such as first responders, military personnel and tactical athletes.

Myth: You Only Need to Get Baseline Testing Once

Just as your joints and muscles change as you get older, your brain changes, too. It’s best to get annual baseline testing. Yearly tests help your healthcare team keep track of your brain health over time. They can spot problems or changes early, before they develop into serious issues. Ask your physician about baseline neurocognitive testing as part of your annual sports physical.

Myth: Baseline Testing Is Only Useful If You Get a Concussion

First and foremost, baseline testing tracks your physical and mental well-being. Even if you never sustain a concussion, the test is a way to stay proactive about your brain health. Gambino-Gorney explains that they can look at test results across seasons to detect changes in neurocognitive function that can indicate disorders such as:

► Anxiety
► Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
► Depression
► Learning disabilities

Myth: Baseline Testing Diagnoses a Concussion

Baseline testing is not a diagnostic tool for concussions. It’s one piece of all the information a healthcare provider needs to determine if you sustained a mild traumatic brain injury. In addition to comprehensive neurocognitive testing, your provider assesses a broad range of concussion signs and symptoms to confirm a diagnosis after you’ve sustained an impact to your head.

To find a primary care or sports medicine specialist at Henry Ford, visit or call 1-800-436-7936.

Michelle Gambino-Gorney is a certified athletic trainer in the Henry Ford Kutcher Clinic for Concussion and Sports Neurology.

Symptoms of a Meniscus Tear — and When to Seek Treatment

April 2, 2024

Meniscus tears are not one size fits all: Sometimes they cause no pain, other times they’re excruciating.

Henry Ford HealthOnce in a while they heal or adapt on their own, but more often than not they require physical therapy or surgery.    

“Your meniscus is a fiber elastic cartilage that acts as a shock absorber for the knee,” says Ahmad Bazzi, M.D., a sports medicine physician at Henry Ford Health. “It also helps stabilize the knee joint. But when it tears — which can occur in young athletes after a pivot injury or in older people who have arthritis — it can be painful.”

Here, Dr. Bazzi shares symptoms of a meniscus tear and when to see a doctor. 

What Does A Meniscus Tear Feel Like?

Depending upon the level of injury and type of tear, meniscus tears can either be asymptomatic or cause symptoms like:

  • Locking. When the meniscus tears, a piece of it might move into the knee joint, causing mechanical issues like stiffness and locking of the knee joint.
  • Catching or clicking. This often feels like a sudden ‘click’ in the knee joint, where it suddenly gives out while you’re walking or doing certain movements. 
  • Localized pain on the inner or outer part of the knee. In young athletes, a meniscus tear often causes an impaired range of motion and localized pain on the inner or outer part of the knee. 
  • Pain and swelling. In older people, a meniscus tear often causes swelling and an overall aching pain in the knee.  

Treatment Options For Meniscus Tears

A meniscus tear can only heal on its own if the tear is on the outer part of the knee where it has better access to blood supply. If you’re experiencing pain a few days after injury and you have limited range of motion, instability and/or swelling in the knee, Dr. Bazzi recommends seeing a doctor to get an examination and, if needed, an MRI for diagnosis. 

“It’s hard to tell what type of meniscus tear you have if you haven’t seen a doctor,” says Dr. Bazzi. “If you have a mechanically unstable tear and it goes untreated, it could lead to worsening range of motion and stiffness, or worsening arthritis. It’s important to get seen by a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and the proper treatment. It may take one to three months for a full recovery.”     

Here, Dr. Bazzi shares treatment options:


If someone is having mechanical symptoms like locking or catching, surgery may be considered right away, especially if it’s an athlete younger than 40 years old. “Meniscus tear surgery has a shorter recovery compared to other knee surgeries,” says Dr. Bazzi. “Surgery could either consist of a meniscectomy, which is partial or complete removal of the meniscus, or sometimes just a meniscus repair.”  

Hyaluronic acid or cortisone injections

Non-operative treatments are often recommended for older people who have degenerative tears due to arthritis. “This is because meniscus surgery doesn’t often relieve their pain since they have underlying arthritis, meaning they have cartilage loss in the meniscus,” says Dr. Bazzi. 

Instead, a cortisone injection, which is an anti-inflammatory medication that can be injected into the knee, can reduce inflammation, swelling and pain caused by arthritis.

A hyaluronic acid injection may also be considered, which adds cushioning in the knee. “Hyaluronic acid is one of the substances that make up our cartilage, so this injection helps us mimic the lost cartilage,” says Dr. Bazzi. “It also has anti-inflammatory properties.” 

Physical therapy

Physical therapy is another great option, especially for older people who need non-operative treatment options. It can help the knee adapt to the tear, reduce pain and encourage full range of motion. “Physical therapy for meniscus tears focuses on balance exercises and exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee,” says Dr. Bazzi. “This helps to uphold the knee joint to achieve full range of motion and strength while being pain-free.” 

To find a sports medicine provider at Henry Ford Health, visit or call 313-651-1969.

Reviewed by Ahmad Bazzi, M.D., a sports medicine physician who sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Center – Fairlane.