A simple test performed at the rink side of the National Hockey League’s Philadelphia Flyers Hockey team accurately detected concussions in athletes, according to a study by researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.
Currently, there is not a single test that can be used alone to screen for concussion. The SCAT2 is a commonly used tool to assist in the clinical evaluation of concussion, but can sometimes take up to 20 minutes to administer. The results of this study indicate that the King-Devick Test may add complementary data to the SCAT2 evaluation of acute concussion in a time efficient manner. The study appears now in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences in the May 2013 issue.
The King-Devick (K-D) Test is a one-minute test which involves the athlete reading single digit numbers displayed on index-sized cards. Any increase (worsening) in the time needed to complete the test suggests a concussion has occured. The King-Devick Test is a tool for the evaluation of impaired eye movements, language, concentration and other correlates of suboptimal brain function as a result of concussion.
The Sports Concussion Assessment Tool 2 (SCAT2) and King–Devick test have both been proposed as sideline tools to detect sports-related concussion. In this study an exploratory analysis was performed to determine the relation of SCAT2 components, particularly the Standardized Assessment of Concussion (SAC), to K–D test scores in a professional ice hockey team.
A modified SCAT2 (no balance testing) and the K–D test, were administered as baseline tests to 27 members of the professional ice hockey team during the 2011–2012 pre-season. Athletes with concussion also underwent rinkside testing.
Worse (increased) K-D scores were associated with reductions in Immediate Memory in the SAC at a pre-season baseline. This may be accounted for by the fact that both working memory and saccadic eye movements share closely related anatomical brain structures. The K-D baseline scores provide an objective point of comparison when evaluating a potentially injured athlete.
Additionally, in two players who were tested at rinkside immediately following concussion, K–D test scores worsened from baseline by 4.2 and 6.4 seconds. These athletes had no differences found for SCAT2 SAC components, but reported symptoms of concussion and exhibited physical examination deficits consistent with concussion.
This study suggests that a composite of brief rapid sideline tests, including SAC and K–D (and balance testing for non-ice hockey sports), is likely to provide an effective clinical tool to assess the athlete with suspected concussion.
“It is very exciting to potentially have an objective, rapid sideline screening tool for diagnosing concussion that is quick, simple and easy to administer. Timely early detection of concussion is important in properly treating concussion,” said the study’s senior author, Christina Master, MD. “This test has the potential to be a very useful sideline test for athletes and we are looking at its utility in the pediatric and adolescent population where it may be very helpful because there are often no medical personnel on the sidelines of youth competitions.”
While more extensive testing can capture post-concussion syndrome symptoms and deficits, these tests may be influenced by other factors such as intellectual ability or depression. The King-Devick Test has the benefit of providing objective baseline and post-injury data for rapid comparison. This may help athletic trainers and coaches determine whether players should be removed from games.
The study was funded in part by a grant from the National Eye Institute.
About King-Devick Test
The King-Devick Test (K-D Test) was developed more than 25 years ago and has been used worldwide as a proven indicator of saccadic eye movements. Other recent publications in Neurology and the Journal of the Neurological Sciences, have called the King-Devick Test an “accurate and reliable method for identifying athletes with head trauma.”
More information can be found at www.kingdevicktest.com.
This press release was reprinted here with the permission of King-Devick Test.