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Sideline vision test accurately detects concussions

In today's Super Bowl game, the opposing 300-pound players will launch themselves into each other with testosterone-laced aggression. Heads protected only by 3/4" of foam cushioning and 1/4" of polycarbonate will collide with frightening power. When a player inevitably stumbles woozily off the field, how will the experts - with so much riding on the results of the Big Game - determine whether the player is fit to return to action? The answer may be as simple as a test of the player's eye movements,?researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine discovered. Current sideline tests can leave a wide amount of brain function untested following concussion. The article in the journal, Neurology showed that this simple test was superior to current methods and accurately and more reliably identified athletes with head trauma. The 60-second test 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 occurred, especially if the delay is greater than five seconds compared to the athlete's baseline test time. The test, called the King-Devick test, captures impairments of eye movement, attention, language and other symptoms of impaired brain function. It looks at the rapid eye movements known as "saccades," that are frequently abnormal following a concussion. "This rapid screening test provides an effective way to detect early signs of concussion, which can improve outcomes and hopefully prevent repetitive concussions," said the study's senior author, Laura Balcer, MD, MSCE, Professor of Neurology, Ophthalmology and Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "If validated in future studies, this test has the potential to become a standard sideline test for athletes." Tests of rapid number naming such as the King-Devick test are simple to perform and not prone to a coach's subjective bias to put the player back in on the field in the hopes of winning the game. * The King-Devick demonstration and test cards can be downloaded from?https://pennmedicine.box.net/shared/914vjlety1. Paul Krawitz, M.D., President and Founder Vitamin Science, Inc.

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