This week’s EXSS Impact Post is based on research conducted by Breton Asken when he was an undergraduate student. This work was performed under the direction of Dr. Jason Mihalik (advisor) and the rest of his research team Dr. Kevin Guskiewicz, Dr. Joseph Hopfinger, Dr. Julianne Schmidt, and Ashley Littleton.
1) Why did you do the study?
Sport-related brain injury continues to be at the forefront of the athlete health discussion at all levels of competition. Whether it be in the area of prevention, diagnosis, treatment, return-to-play decisions, or long-term effects, concussion research is being approached from a number of perspectives. One of the developing areas of consideration is an athlete’s vision. More so than just basic acuity, an athlete’s vision has a number of functional implications (e.g. balance, reaction time, preparedness). As a result, damage to different aspects of the visual system can affect the athlete in a number of ways. Therefore, assessing components of the visual system may provide vital information to the screening process for medical professionals determining whether an athlete has sustained a concussion. In addition to these tests providing diagnostic information, the visual system is potentially a valuable resource for tracking recovery or being the target of rehabilitation considerations.
2) What did you do and what did you find?
The purpose of this study was to determine the relationships between different visual performance tests in healthy, active, participants. Tests that assess saccadic eye motion, the vestibulo-ocular reflex, and accommodation and convergence were all analyzed. Specifically, tests that are cost- and time-effective (King-Devick test, self-paced saccades, accommodation and convergence) were compared to more sophisticated and functional tests performed on the Nike SPARQ Sensory Performance System and NeuroCom system. The most important finding was that the King-Devick Test is significantly correlated with the Near-Far Quickness, Eye-Hand Coordination, and Go/No Go tasks from the Nike SPARQ system.
3) What’s the impact of these findings on the public?
These results show that in the absence of expensive and sophisticated equipment, time- and cost-effective assessments of saccadic eye motion are available with the administration of the King-Devick Test or self-paced saccades. Perhaps more importantly, the results indicate that saccadic eye motion is an essential component of functional performance as well. The King-Devick test, which can be readily administered in less than two minutes on the sideline of a sporting event, provides potentially valuable information to the clinician regarding an athlete’s visual and functional capabilities. Further research should examine the utilization and integration of these tests into post-injury recovery assessments as well as a being a target for rehabilitation protocols.