Every year in the United States, there are over 3.9 million athletic-related concussions. Considered a “mild traumatic brain injury”, concussions are still very serious, especially in children.
A new test has been developed that can effectively diagnose concussions in child athletes as young as 5 years old. The King-Devick test works by using a stopwatch, mobile phone and three printed out numerical tests. Parents or coaches with tablet devices can easily use an app to combine these features.
With the King-Devick test, parents or coaches must test student athletes before they receive a concussion. If a student athlete receives a concussion, they are tested a second time so a comparison can be made with the baseline results.
Why Are Concussions Serious Brain Injuries?
The long-term effects of concussions and sports are still being debated, but research has shown that there may be a connection between the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy and repeated brain injuries. Although CTE is more common in older former athletes, there have been reports of younger athletes having the condition.
It is important that children suspected of having concussions avoid further injury, as there is a possibility of permanent brain damage or death.
In the near future, better and more effective rapid tests will let coaches and parents know that something is wrong so players can be promptly treated.
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