Vision test is new tool for concussion detection
The estimated 4 million sports-related concussions that occur nationwide every year are getting lots of attention from the media and medical professionals. And it looks like scientists have come up with a simple and reliable test to quickly determine on the sidelines whether or not an athlete has sustained a concussion.
Results of the study
The King-Devick vision test measures how rapidly athletes can read a series of numbers. Studies revealed 86 percent reliability in detecting concussions in athletes to whom the tests were administered. The determinations were later clinically confirmed. When the vision test was administered along with balance and cognition assessments, detection of concussions was 100 percent.
The New York University Langone Concussion Center review included 1,419 pro hockey players and amateur, college and youth football, hockey basketball, rugby, boxing, soccer, and lacrosse players. Concussions were sustained by 112 of the participants.
Vision plays an important role in the diagnosis of concussions and their potential long term effects. There is a vast network of visual pathways in the brain, and disruptions in these pathways can be a sign of a brain injury. Earlier studies using the rapid number reading tests show a correlation between lowered scores and other neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, ALS, and Parkinson’s disease.
Coaches can administer baseline testing on athletes before the season starts to be used for comparison in the event of a suspected concussion. Uninjured athletes tend to improve their reading time by 1.9 seconds later in the season, while those tested immediately after sustaining a concussion averaged 4.8 seconds longer than their baseline times.
Subscriptions to the King-Devick vision test kits are currently available for $20 per athlete, which includes unlimited screenings throughout the subscription year.
Only a medical professional should diagnose a concussion. But since there isn’t always a physician on the field, the King-Devick vision test is an effective tool to help parents, coaches, and trainers on the sidelines determine if an athlete should be removed from play, according Laura Balcer, co-director of the Langone Concussion Center and a professor of neurology.
There can be a lot of chaos on the sidelines, so anything that helps eliminate guesswork is needed, said Steven Galetta, co-author of the study, which was published in the September, 2015 issues of Concussion.
We have more information on concussions and concussion prevention on our blog.