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Can a Simple Vision Test Help Identify Concussions?

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Farren Washington3 years ago

A recent study has revealed that a straightforward and simple vision test using a stopwatch and a couple of flashcards may help parents and coaches screen young athletes for concussions.

Description of the Study

According to Fox News, many injured athletes currently get a standard concussion evaluation. These assessments test coordination, using exercises like: jumping jacks, and memory and cognitive function by asking athletes to memorize and recall short lists of words, and quizzing them about simple facts.

The current study focuses solely on the King-Devick screening test, which requires speed reading numbers on a card from left to right as quickly as possible. Numbers are displayed in patterns that are more difficult to read after a concussion, thus making the answers slower and less accurate after an injury.

At the beginning of the study, New York University investigators tested 243 youth league hockey and lacrosse players, ranging in age from 5 to 17, and 89 college athletes, to see how quickly and accurately they could read the numbers depicted on the cards.

Final Results of the Study

NYU researchers did an independent study looking at how concussions influence sight and discovered that visual performance tests can significantly improve detection and management of concussions.

Approximately half of the brain's circuits are linked to vision and many of these pathways can be impaired by a concussion. One advantage of the rapid vision test utilized in the study is that it's fairly easy to administer with relatively little training, said Dr. Robert Dimeff, director of primary care sports medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. 

Dimeff added that the vision test is just one piece of the puzzle, not the only piece. The hardest thing to control in a test like this are the kids. There are concerns that there will be some athletes who might deliberately self-sabotage if they know it will be used against them to be pulled out of a game later.


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