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Vision Testing as a Tool for TBI Detection

Early detection of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is essential to proper treatment and prevention of further injury. Unfortunately, the condition, which is often called the “invisible injury”, often proves difficult to diagnose because the brain’s complexity. For this reason, medical professionals generally rely on physical abnormalities as an indicator of brain injury. Particularly among sporting professionals, the search for adequate early detection techniques is continuous. According to a recent article by the NYU Langone Medical Center, researchers believe that vision testing may prove to be a valuable tool in the early detection of concussions.

Administration of the Test

Athletes are shown a series of numbers from reading cards and asked to name them as quickly as they can, while being timed. The test is given at the start of the season to establish a baseline score. During games, when a concussion is suspected, the athlete is given the same test on the sidelines. The results are then compared with the baseline scores. Slower times alert the coaching staff to the possibility of a concussion.

Researchers explain that vision tests are useful due to the connection between the brain and the ability to see. When brain injuries occur, the pathways are often disrupted and vision is impaired. Past studies have exemplified that decreased scores commonly occur in patients with neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

The Study Details

More than 1,400 athletes were included in the study, including professional hockey players and participants in a variety of other sports from youth level of play to collegiate levels. Of the study participants, 112 previously sustained a concussion. The conclusions included:

***The concussed athletes took about five seconds longer on the vision test than their baseline times.

***The non-concussed athletes showed an improvement in their scores of about two seconds.

***Testing accurately detected 86% of concussions.

***Testing was 90% accurate in distinguishing athletes with a concussion from athletes who were not concussed.

Steven Galetta, MD is the study’s co-author. He is quoted in the article as stating, “This tool as part of a simple battery of tests assessing cognition and balance can raise a flag for those athletes that require follow-up with a medical professional.” He went on to explain, “In the heat of the game, there is a lot of chaos and confusion on sidelines, so anything that helps eliminate guesswork is needed.”

Traumatic brain injuries result from violent jolts to the brain. These incidents may include an open head injury, where an object penetrates the skull and obstructs the brain. A closed head injury occurs when the brain is jolted inside of the skull, from the impact of an automobile accident or a violent collision during a sporting event.

If you or a loved is suffering with a severe brain injury due to the negligent actions of another, contact the experienced attorneys of Levin & Perconti at (312) 332-2872 for a free consultation. These knowledgeable attorneys will aggressively work to secure the damage award to which you are entitled.