By Ken Reed
The King-Devick Test, an inexpensive, quick (approximately two minutes) and accurate test for concussion detection and evaluation is being adopted by sports organizations from the youth level to the pro level.
The concussion screening test, which has been endorsed by the world famous Mayo Clinic, was recently selected by the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the Joga Bonita Soccer Club to be part of their concussion protocols.
“Our research last year, conducted in concert with the National Football League, showed promising results and that has led the medical staffs from our clubs to conclude that the K-D test is a viable tool and worth implementing across the CFL,” said Kevin McDonald, Vice President of Football Operations and Player Safety for the CFL.
Joga Bonita Soccer Club adopted the K-D test because of its ease of use and ability to track injury patterns.
“First and foremost, we want to keep our kids safe,” said Joga Bonita director of coaching Dan Campione.
“K-D Test is an immediate and accurate in-game or practice concussion screening tool. But the K-D Test technology also provides us with the tracking tools necessary to see what types of plays tend to cause injury or what kids tend to be more concussion prone. From there we can adjust our training to reduce the threat of injury.”
The King-Devick Test is easy to administer for almost anyone. You don’t have to be a medical professional to administer the test to a youth or high school athlete. Youth and high school coaches and parents 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 youth and high school athlete’s pre-participation requirements list.
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, including death.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate 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 is a two-minute exam 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 or an iPad program. 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.
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 the hit.
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.
As such, it should be mandatory for youth and high school leagues.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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- 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
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