By Ken Reed
Looking at all the research studies that come across my desk on sports concussions — and even sub-concussive brain trauma — can be depressing.
But today I have good news: In a news conference today, the world-famous Mayo Clinic has teamed with the King-Devick Test to increase awareness and screening of brain trauma, with a focus on young athletes. The King-Devick Test is an inexpensive, quick (approximately two minutes) and accurate test for concussion detection and evaluation on the sidelines of sporting events. Just as importantly, it’s easy to administer — for almost anyone. You don’t have to be a medical professional in order to administer the test to an athlete. Youth parents and coaches can do it after a minimum of instruction.
“Studies have indicated that the King-Devick Test is an effective tool for the real-time evaluation of concussion because it looks at rapid eye movement and attention — both are affected by concussions,” said David Dodick, M.D., Mayo Clinic neurologist and director of Mayo Clinic’s concussion program.
“Most importantly, the test is affordable and can easily be used by any youth sports league, and administered by non-medical personnel. And youth athletes are at a higher risk for concussion and a longer recovery time than adults.”
The test costs between five and ten dollars a year for athletes. The yearly cost is due to the need to establish an annual baseline. Ideally, the King-Devick Test will eventually become part of every young athlete’s pre-participation physical.
On the sidelines, the test can identify athletes that not only have suffered a full-blown concussion but sub-concussive brain trauma as well. Thus, the test is an excellent “remove-from-play” tool for trainers, coaches and parents. An effective remove-from-play tool is critical because it can help prevent Second Impact Syndrome, a condition in which a person experiences a second brain injury shortly after the first. Second Impact Syndrome can have devastating effects, both in the short-and-long-term.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that between 1.6 and 3.8 million students have concussions every year. And given that research has shown that up to 50% of athletes don’t self-report brain injury symptoms, having a simple, valid and accurate tool for detecting concussions on the sidelines of sporting events is a critical societal need.
The King-Devick Test has also been proven to pick up “silent concussions.” These are brain injuries that have occurred in athletes despite the lack of typical concussion symptoms. As such, a coach or parent could quickly test an athlete after a big hit even if the athlete isn’t wobbly or experiencing any other obvious effect from that hit.
“It’s a privilege to be associated with the premier health care brand in the world,” said Steve Devick, Founder and CEO of King-Devick Test.
“This agreement will help us accomplish our goal of having a tool on the sidelines to help determine ‘remove from play’ for athletes to prevent further injury and be referred to qualified professionals for follow up care.”
For more information on the King-Devick Test, visit www.kingdevicktest.com
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
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.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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