In 2011, Dr. Steve Devick, developer of the King-Devick Test, came to the United States Sports Academy to give a seminar on sport-related concussions. With him were Mike Haynes, Pro Football Hall of Famer, and Kimberly Archie, founder of the National Cheer Safety Foundation. In this seminar, each of them gave testimonies on how concussions have significantly impacted all levels of sport participation.
Much of the attention about sport-related concussions comes from sports media coverage in the National Football League, especially since researchers identified the brain degenerative disease CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy). It is well understood that concussions have serious effects on the brain, especially for professional athletes that participate in collision sports, but as leaders in the sport field we must not forget the impact concussions can potentially have on young athletes.
In an effort to bring both awareness and increase concussion screening, Mayo Clinic has agreed to a licensing agreement with King-Devick Test Inc. Under the terms of the agreement, the King-Devick Concussion Screening Test will be formally recognized as the King-Devick Test In Association with Mayo Clinic.
This agreement is a great benefit for protecting young athletes who participate in sports. Last year, Mayo Clinic researchers validated the King-Devick Test as a rapid sideline test for youth athletes. Check out the link: http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-researchers-validate-rapid-sideline-concussion-test-for-youth-athletes/.
The culture of competitive sports often discourages athletes from reporting concussion symptoms and removing themselves from play. Using the King-Devick Test as a preseason baseline screening tool may help identify athletes with concussion and potentially increase awareness about its effects on the brain. This is a big deal as many youth athletes fail to reliably report symptoms of concussion.
The King-Devick Test is a useful and effective baseline concussion screening tool based on the measurement of the speed of rapid number naming. It only takes a couple of minutes to complete and does not require a medical professional to administer. It utilizes three test cards with a series of single-digit number that are read aloud from left to right. Participants attempt to read the numbers as quickly as possible without making any errors. The time taken and number of errors for each test card are recorded and combined to provide a summary score for the entire test. Just like any other assessment, the King-Devick Test has limitations, as it uses limited data and has an observable learning effect. Nonetheless, the King-Devick Test has been shown in research to accurately identify athletes with head trauma.
There are three main things we should know about managing athletes with concussions: 1) any athletes suspected of having a concussion should be immediately removed from competition, 2) concussed athletes should follow appropriate guidelines and procedures to recover, and 3) athletes should be cleared for return-to-play by a licensed health care professional.
The most difficult objective for coaches and athletic trainers in the future will be getting athletes to report concussion symptoms. The mindset most athletes possess puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to treating sport-related concussions. Using an instrument such as the KD Test gives athletes access to an immediate and objective concussion assessment. More importantly, it could help coaches and athletic trainers determine if athletes should be removed from competition. Some sports medicine professionals have already called the KD Test the ‘missing link’ for practical sideline management of concussions due to its simplicity, objectivity, and effectiveness.
Dr. Brandon Spradley is a graduate of the doctoral program at the United States Sports Academy. He is the Executive Director of the Alumni Association and is serving as the Acting Director of Continuing Education.