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Concussion in Young Athletes Can Now be Detected Quickly by a Vision Test

New research has found that a simple, two-minute vision test can detect concussion in young sportspeople.

Scientists at New York University have found what they say is a reliable way of determining whether a young athletes have concussion if they hit their head while playing sport. The quick vision test, using flashcards, can be carried out in two minutes on the sidelines and is simple enough for any coach or parent to carry out.

Any child who suffers a head injury during sport, however minor, should be tested for concussion. Many people don’t know how to do this and concussion tests up until now involved testing co-ordination and memory recall and was usually left to the medically-trained to administer.

How the Two-Minute Concussion Test Works

50% of the brain’s pathways are linked in some way to vision and eye tests can tell a great deal about how someone’s brain is working, according to the research by New York University’s Langone Medical Center.

The researchers used the King-Devick test during their study, which had been established for some time in testing adult boxers, but had not yet been evaluated for use in young sportspeople.

Athletes being tested for concussion via the King-Devick test are asked to read lines of numbers printed on flashcards as quickly as they can. Athletes are considered to have concussion if they read the numbers slower than the results of a baseline test.

Researchers found that the King-Devick test correctly assessed concussion in 75% of all young athletes and also found that the test proved more reliable than other more established concussion tests.

Whether the vision test can replace all current concussion tests remains to be seen but New York University Chairman of Neurology Dr Steven Galetta strongly advises parents and coaches to consider learning how to administer the King-Devick test, and carrying out baseline tests at the start of each season. If a young athlete bangs their head during play, they should be tested on the sideline and if they read the flashcard numbers even a fraction slower than the baseline, they should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible.

The King-Devick test is welcome news for parents and coaches, but more needs to be done to quickly detect concussion in professional athletes, such as boxers and rugby players. For more information, read our blog: More TV Replay Needed to Identify Rugby Head Injuries

Ken Brough is a senior personal injury solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.

Slater and Gordon Personal Injury Lawyers are experts in helping people claim compensation for head injuries sustained through no fault of their own. For a free consultation, call us on 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you.


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