Testing For Concussion

See also: www.ConcussionDetection.com

Sideline test accurately detects athletes’ concussions in minutes

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(More than 40% of high school athletes return to action too soon following a concussion, according to a 2009 study.)

By Janice Lloyd, USA TODAY

A vision test that can be administered in a minute on the sidelines could be an effective tool to detect concussions, researchers say.

How to prevent players from going back into action after suffering a concussion is a hot-button topic in sports. Coaches don’t always recognize the signs and players eager to get back into a game try to hide symptoms. Returning to a game too soon can slow healing and cause “repeat” concussions with long-term consequences.

“This rapid screening test provides an effective way to detect early signs of concussion, which can improve outcomes and hopefully prevent repetitive concussions,” says lead author Laura Balcer, professor of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

The test, called the King-Devick (K-D) test, involves the athlete reading single digit numbers displayed on index-sized cards. A baseline test is given at the start of the season. Any increase (worsening) in the time needed to complete the test suggests a concussion has occurred, particularly if the delay is greater than five seconds compared to the individual’s baseline test time.

While other sideline exams test cognitive or memory skills and rely on the administrator to make subjective decisions, the K-D test is objective, researchers say. It reveals impairments of eye movement, attention, language and other symptoms of impaired brain function. It looks at rapid eye movements and other signs that are frequently abnormal following a concussion.

The initial research was a small study limited to 39 boxers and MMA fighters, whose post-fight times were significantly higher (worse) for those who had head trauma during their matches. Researchers are extending the research to include football, basketball and other college sports, adding this could be a valid sideline test that would help coaches to decide to remove players from games.

More than 40% of high school athletes return to action too soon following a concussion, according to a 2009 study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital inColumbus,Ohio.

Rest is the only way to heal brain injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In its guidelines for student athletes, experts recommend coaches prevent students from returning to action if they’ve been dealt a serious blow to the head and exhibit any change in behavior, thinking or physical function.

More professional athletes with lingering problems from concussions have stepped forward in the past several years. Former NFL quarterback Jim McMahon says he knows he had five concussions and has trouble remembering things. He spoke Thursday inDallasat a pre-Super Bowl press conference held by the Sports Legacy Institute, which is hoping cities pass ordinances mandating strict concussion response and management for youth sports.

The K-D test research was published online in Neurology and funded by the National Eye Institute. One of the researchers is Steve Devick, co-developer of the test, which sells for $50. It has been used for more than 25 years to track eye movement and detect reading difficulties.

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