League of Fans Says Sports World Must Open Eyes to Compelling Concussion Research
Ralph Nader announced today that his League of Fans organization is pushing for the King-Devick sideline concussion test to become mandatory in all sports from high school down to the youth sports level. The announcement came in conjunction with the release of the League of Fans’ fifth report from its Sports Manifesto, “Concussion Research Can’t Be Ignored.”
“Too many sports organizations, from the little leagues to the professional level, continue to have their heads in the sand when it comes to concussion safety and prevention measures,” said Nader. “The growing mound of research showing the often devastating long-term effects of sports-related brain trauma demands that we take proactive measures to protect our young athletes’ brains. The King-Devick test is a simple and objective sideline screening test that can be administered by coaches, trainers and parents.”
Ken Reed, League of Fans’ sports policy director and author of the organization’s Sports Manifesto, said the King-Devick test is a one-to-two-minute test that requires an athlete to establish a baseline time at the start of every season by reading a series of single digit numbers displayed on three flash cards. After a possible head injury, the athlete is given the test again. If the time needed to complete the test is more than five seconds slower than his/her baseline test, a concussion can be confidently suspected. At that point, the athlete should be removed from play and evaluated by a licensed medical professional.
A University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine study published in the Journal of Neurology earlier this year demonstrated the usefulness of the King-Devick test. The study examined 39 boxers and mixed martial arts contestants and found post-fight test times for those who suffered head trauma worsened by an average 11.1 seconds. Those who had lost consciousness were on average 18 seconds slower.
“This rapid screening test provides an effective way to detect early signs of concussion, which can improve outcomes and hopefully prevent repetitive concussions,” said Dr. Laura Balcer, the study’s senior researcher.
Some sports medicine doctors and trainers have called the King-Devick test the “missing link” for practical sideline management of concussions due to its simplicity, objectivity and effectiveness.
“There are other quality concussion screening tests out there,” said Reed. “However, most of those tests need to be administered by professional healthcare providers. The King-Devick test is easy to learn, understand and administer for virtually anybody.”
The subject of concussions is a growing concern in football circles, but concussions and the negative impact of repetitive sub-concussive blows to the head, are a major issue in other sports as well. For example, girls’ soccer is second to football as the sport with the most concussions.
“General awareness and understanding of brain injuries is still lacking at all levels of sports,” said Reed. “Torn up knees and shoulders are one thing, but brain injuries are an entirely different matter. An easy-to-learn, inexpensive and highly-accurate concussion screening tool like the King-Devick test could prevent thousands of devastating brain injuries in high school and youth sports programs. As such, it should be implemented across the nation immediately.”
The full Sports Manifesto report, “Concussion Research Can’t Be Ignored,” is available at the League of Fans website: http://leagueoffans.org/pdf/Manifesto5.pdf
- League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.