March 08, 2016
1 min read

Concussion tests may present challenges for athletes who speak English as a second language

You've successfully added to your alerts. You will receive an email when new content is published.

Click Here to Manage Email Alerts

We were unable to process your request. Please try again later. If you continue to have this issue please contact

Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Rusk Rehabilitation recently published a study that showed vision test times for possible concussions were significantly slower for healthy study participants who were non-native English speakers compared with participants who spoke English as their native language.

The computerized eye tracker in the study also showed participants who spoke English as a second language (ESL) displayed significantly more rapid eye movements (saccades) during testing than participants who spoke English as their native language.

In the study, 27 native English speakers and 27 ESL speakers were evaluated with a computerized version of the King-Devick Test. In the test, participants are asked to rapidly read numbers presented in irregular patterns from left to right and top to bottom on three test cards.

The ESL cohort had slower test times and the “rest” time between saccadic eye movements was significantly longer for the ESL group, according to a press release from NYU Langone Medical Center.

“These results highlight important disparities that language has on results of sideline vision testing, which are becoming more utilized in sports,” study co-author Joel Birkemeier, MD, a postdoctoral research fellow at NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation, said in the release. “When performing sideline vision tests, clinicians and trainers may need to first take into account how language may affect score results.”

Future studies will determine whether sideline vision testing for other languages influences results and if demographic characteristics also affect the test results.