Checking a player for the signs and symptoms of a concussion can be a tricky thing, especially in the heat of the game. That’s why the Reston (Va.) Raiders Hockey Club are among a growing number of youth sports teams that are taking the guesswork out of the process by using the King-Devick Test.
Validated by Mayo Clinic researchers, the King-Devick Test is an easy-to-administer, vision-based test that evaluates rapid eye movement, vision and attention, all of which can be affected by concussions.
“For us, the test is quick and objective, and players who might otherwise hide symptoms cannot hide a failed King-Devick Test score,” says Kaki Schmidt, hockey parent and Safety/Concussion Program Director for the league.
“It is administered rinkside by one of the team’s parent safety volunteers, allowing coaches to continue running the bench.”
After suspected head trauma, the athlete reads single-digit numbers displayed on an iPad. The results are then compared to the individual’s previously administered baseline test. If the time needed to complete the test takes more than a second longer than the baseline, the athlete should be removed from play until evaluated by a medical professional.
Detecting a concussion rinkside and removing an athlete from play can assist in minimizing the effects of an injury and help prevent an athlete from suffering a second and more serious concussion.
“Youth athletes are at a higher risk for concussion and a longer recovery time than adults,” says Amaal Starling, M.D., Mayo Clinic neurologist.
Most importantly, Starling says, the test is affordable and can easily be used by any youth sports league, and administered by non-medical personnel.
“The King-Devick Test represents a rapid, accurate and cost-effective tool to identify a potential concussion on the sideline and make appropriate game-time, remove-from-play decisions,” she says.
For the Reston Raiders, any player who fails the King-Devick Test at injury is immediately removed from the game. And according to Schmidt, 80 percent of players failing the King-Devick Test who go for medical evaluation are diagnosed with a concussion.
“Because K-D is effective in flagging players with a suspected concussion in the middle of a busy game or practice,” Schmidt says, “it is a valuable tool for greatly reducing the risk of another head injury in our players.”
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in USA Hockey Magazine and was re-printed with permission of the Mayo Clinic. To view the original article, click here.