A team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have
determined the efficacy of a sideline test in detecting concussions in
The King-Devick (KD) test, originally used as a dyslexia test, detects
impaired eye movements and rapid eye movements that indicate diminished brain
function. This quick visual test, according to the study findings, holds
promise as a complement to other diagnostic tools for sports-related
concussions. It involves the athlete reading a series of numbers on cards.
Performance is scored based on speed and accuracy.
The study’s findings were published in the Journal of the
“This test has demonstrated its ability to provide objective
evidence to aid medical professionals and trainers in determining which
athletes need to come out of games after a blow to the head,” study author
Laura J. Balcer, MD, stated in a University of Pennsylvania press release.
Balcer and her team performed a longitudinal study on collegiate varsity
football, sprint football, women’s and men’s soccer and basketball
teams, with the 219 participants undergoing baseline K-D testing before the
2010-2011 season. The participants also underwent postseason K-D testing.
Athletes who sustained concussions during the course of the season underwent
sideline K-D testing immediately, and changes from baseline scores were
The authors found postseason K-D scores to be better than preseason
scores, which they wrote reflected “mild learning effects in the absence
of concussion.” Ten athletes in the study sustained concussion, with
sideline K-D testing showing significant worsening from baseline measurements
— a median drop in test completion speed of 5.9 seconds.
“We’ll continue to measure the test’s effectiveness in
different groups — players who play on the same position who have and have
not suffered concussions, for instance,” Balcer stated. “It is our
hope that the new test, once validated, can be folded into the current sideline
battery of tests for concussion, as no single test at this time can be used to
diagnose or manage concussion.”
- Galetta KM, Brandes LE, Maki K, et al. The King-Devick test and
sports-related concussion: Study of a rapid visual screening tool in a
collegiate cohort. J Neurol Sci. 2011.
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