Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania have come up with a simple yet reliable test to detect concussions in athletes.
The easy one-minute test performed at sporting events can detect instances of concussions accurately, the study claims.
The test is more effective than current methods, which result in a large part of the brain remaining untested.
"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," she added.
The King-Devick test
As a part of the test, known as the King-Devick test, the athlete is asked to read out single digit numbers which are displayed on index-sized cards before him.
Presence of a concussion is indicated by an increase or delay in the time period within which the athlete reads out the numbers.
The test effectively records any impairments of eye movement, lack of attention, language and various other symptoms of impaired brain function in the sports persons.
The study's lead author, Kristin Galetta, MS, explains, "Concussion is a complex type of brain injury that is not visible on the routine scans we do of the brain, yet is detectable when we measure important aspects of brain function, such as vision.
“The K-D test is only one test on the sidelines, though, and the diagnosis of concussion requires a combination of tests and input of medical professionals."
In the study comprising of 39 boxers and MMA fighters, post-fight time test scores were found to be much higher for the athletes suffering head trauma during their matches, i.e., (59.1 ± 7.4 vs 41.0 ± 6.7 seconds, p < 0.0001).
Also, the players who fell unconscious had even higher post-fight scores as compared to the ones who did not lose their consciousness, (65.5 ± 2.9 vs 52.7 ± 2.9 seconds, p < 0.0001).
In case of the participants who did not have head trauma, the test times had increased by a second, while a reduction of 11.1 seconds was witnessed in participants who suffered head trauma.