Protecting children from concussions and ensuring no child is being put back into a game with a concussion continues to be an important issue for parents and schools alike. Two studies recently published by NYU’s Concussion Center suggests that a simple vision test done on-site by a parent or coach could help with detecting a concussion, especially in situations where there is not a doctor or athletic trainer present.
One of the studies looked at how concussions impact sight, and they found that visual performance tests are a good way to detect a concussion due to the fact that approximately 50 percent of our brain’s circuits are related to vision.
In the other study, they tested 243 youth league lacrosse and hockey players from age 5 to 17 and 89 college athletes using a speed-reading test (called the King-Devick test). The test asks the child to read numbers on a flashcard from left to right as accurately and quickly as possible. Then, later on in the season, the researchers repeated the same test on the sidelines for 12 of those players who had concussions. What they found was the athletes’ average time on the test was 5.2 seconds slower than before the concussion. However, among 14 athletes who repeated the test after a game, but were not injured, the average time on the test was 6.4 seconds faster.
In situations where a child is hit, says they are ok to go back in the game, but you don’t really know for sure if they are or not, this rapid visual test seems to be a possible way to measure the injuries when no physician or athletic trainer is present. The ease in which it’s administered also helps in these types of situations.
Dr. Robert Dimeff, director of primary care sports medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas said, “This vision test is one piece of the puzzle, not the only piece. For the 11-year-old youth league where you don’t have any health professionals on the sidelines, it can help.”