Diagnosing a concussion can be a tricky process. While there are tools hitting the market proclaiming to help diagnose traumatic brain injuries, the majority of the process still relies on subjective answers to questions from professionals.
However, a new report from researchers from the NYU Langone Concussion Center claims a simple vision test could cut the process down to as little as two minutes.
The simple eye test, known as the King-Devick Test, can be administered with no professional training and may be effective on children as young as 5 years old.
The claims seem too good to be true, but the test has gained the support of the Mayo Clinic as well as several other respected health organizations.
According to the report in the Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology, the test was developed in 1976 but has recently gained interest as football has brought concussions to the forefront of the sports-health discussion. It has been used for college-age athletes, and several studies have shown the test to be effective for the age group. However, the researchers say this is the first study to assess the test’s accuracy with children.
Like many concussion tests, the King-Devick requires a baseline test before injury for comparison with post-injury tests.
The study evaluated 89 NCAA athletes from New York University and Long Island University, as well as 243 young athletes between the ages of 5 and 17. All participants were tracked over the course of the sports season.
The test works by asking potentially injured persons to read numbers from three cars from left to right as fast as they can. The test is timed and times are added together to create a total score. The greater the difference between baseline test and post-injury test, the greater likelihood of concussion.
By the end of the sports seasons, 12 participants had experienced concussions. The researchers observed that athletes who had experienced brain injuries had notably worse scores compared to their baseline results and their non-concussed peers.
The researchers also compared the accuracy of the test with two other popular concussion diagnostic tools – the Standardized Assessment of Concussion and the Timed Tandem Gait Test – and found the King-Devick to be significantly more accurate. The King-Devick was found to be 92 percent accurate in distinguishing individuals with brain injuries from those who didn’t experience concussions. In comparison, the Standardized Assessment of Concussion had a 68 percent accuracy and the Tandem Gait Test had an 87 percent accuracy.
The new tool may be highly accurate even in the hands of non-trained individuals, but the researchers maintain concussions should only be diagnosed by professionals.