Sep 14, 2015Study: Vision Test Identifies Concussions
Vision testing is an effective sideline test for concussion, especially when paired with balance or cognition assessments, according to researchers from the New York University Langone Concussion Center. Their meta-analysis, which was released ahead of print in Concussion, examined 15 previous studies that covered 1,400 athletes in numerous sports across the professional, college, high school, and youth levels.
According to ScienceDaily, the report looked at the effectiveness of a rapid number naming test, also known as the King-Devick test, which asks athletes suspected of having a concussion to read numbers from a series of cards as quickly as they can. The results are then compared to the results of a baseline test administered to the athletes in the preseason. Athletes with concussion will typically perform poorer than they did on the baseline test while athletes without a concussion will identify the numbers more quickly.
The rapid number naming test detected 96 of the 112 concussions (86 percent) reported in the 15 studies. It also showed a 90 percent specificity in distinguishing between concussed and non-concussed athletes.
“There is no diagnostic substitute for a medical professional when it comes to evaluating an athlete for concussion, but physicians are not always on the sidelines during practice or a game when an injury might occur,” senior study author Laura Balcer, MD, MSCE, Co-Director of the NYU Langone Concussion Center and at NYU Langone, said in a press release. “Our study shows that an easy to administer vision test is a simple, effective tool that empowers parents, coaches, trainers — and even physicians — on the sidelines to have a protocol for deciding if an athlete should be removed from play.”
When the rapid number naming test was combined with the SCAT3 checklist and a timed tandem gait test, the trio of exams was 100 percent accurate in identifying athletes with concussion.
“This tool as part of a simple battery of tests assessing cognition and balance can raise a flag for those athletes that require follow-up with a medical professional,” study co-author Steven Galetta, MD, Professor and Chair of Neurology at NYU Langone Medical Center, said in a press release. “In the heat of a game, there is a lot of chaos and confusion on sidelines, so anything that helps eliminate guesswork is needed.”