New research claims that a battery of three tests are able to detect 100 percent of concussions that occur during a football game and assumedly any similarly brutal sporting event.
The study, published in the journal Neurology: Clinical Practice, evaluated 217 athletes on University of Florida’s football, women’s lacrosse, and wome’s soccer teams over the course of 18 months. During that span of time, 30 of the student-athletes were diagnosed with concussions that occurred during sporting-related activity such as competition or practice.
“We want coaches to realize that the sooner we get them out, the sooner they can get back to a healthy state,” says James Clugston, assistant professor of community health and family medicine at University of Florida.
“If an athlete is playing with a concussion, there is a greater risk of getting a worse injury. Most of the time that means it takes longer to get better. It’s also possible to get post-concussive syndrome, or second-impact syndrome, which may be fatal.”
The study was primarily focused on evaluating the King-Devick test, a vision test that has been used for decades to help evaluate students with learning disabilities. In recent years, the test has also been shown to be effective for identifying brain injuries.
The test is comprised of asking athletes to read a series of numbers arranged in patterns across three index cards. When accompanied by a pre-season baseline test, the results can be used to evaluate the likelihood of brain injury.
When used alone, the King-Devick test idenitified concussions 79 percent of the time, however combining that test with two thers that measure cognition and balance, the tests were believed to identify 100 percent of concussions.
“This is the first study that has shown that adding a vision test helps to identify more athletes with concussion and shows the vision-based King-Devick test is very effective in a college setting,” says Balcer, professor of neurology and population health.