Since concussions and traumatic brain injuries captured the nation’s attention the hunt has been on to find a single simple test that can quickly and reliably identify those who have suffered a brain injury. This is especially true in athletics, where millions upon millions of dollars have been invested in hopes to find a way to diagnose players fast enough to make informed decisions as to whether an athlete needs to be removed from play.
While we are still a ways away from developing one test that can reliably identify every concussion from the sidelines, there have been several tests created which have greatly improved the information sports health professionals have to make decisions. But, there was still a number of brain injuries going undiagnosed. Now, researchers believe they have found a simple vision test that can be given on sidelines that can be combined with other popular screening tests to catch nearly every brain injury quickly.
According to findings published Wednesday by the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), a test known as the King-Devick is able to detect 79 percent of concussions in college athletes who were followed over the course of a season. When combined with two other common screening tests, every concussion was detected.
“People have been looking for quick, on-the-field screening tests,” said Steven Broglio, an athletic trainer and director of the NeuroSport Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Broglio, who was not involved in the study, told HealthDay that the K-D test is “one option […] but it’s not definitive, and you wouldn’t want to rely on this alone.”
The K-D test only takes a minute or two, and can be administered by nearly anyone on the sidelines, from trainers or health professionals to parents and coaches. The test simply requires those being tested to read a few rows of single-digit numbers that are unevenly spaced as quickly and accurately as possible. If the test-taker is slower than their baseline test given before the start of the season, it is indicative of a brain injury.
The K-D test is intended to fill a gap by searching for vision-related problems study co-author Dr. Steven Galleta explained. Galleta is the chair of neurology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.
The test will most likely have to undergo more testing before it will deployed onto sidelines across the country, but the results so far are very promising.