Eye movement test detects concussions and possible 'silent' concussions
PHOENIX — A rapid, easy-to-administer eye movement test is showing great promise as a sideline concussion test for youth sports, a Mayo Clinic study finds.
In the study, Mayo Clinic researchers assessed high school hockey players using the King-Devick test. The test requires an athlete to read single-digit numbers displayed on cards. After suspected head trauma, the athlete is given the test, which takes about two minutes, and the results are compared to a baseline test administered previously. If the time needed to complete the test takes longer than the baseline test time, the athlete should be removed from play until evaluated by a medical professional.
About 150 high school hockey players received preseason testing to establish a baseline time in the study. During the subsequent season, 20 athletes had a suspected concussion. All 20 had a prolonged King-Devick test, and all were later clinically diagnosed with a concussion.
“Youth athletes are at a higher risk for concussion and a longer recovery time than adults,” says Amaal Starling, M.D., Mayo Clinic neurologist and a co-author of the study. “While the test has already been clinically validated for detecting concussion in collegiate and professional athletes, we wanted to ensure it was also validated in adolescents.”