Concussion Head Games – Why brain research and baseline testing should inspire a public cry for action

child with head acheThe Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) speculates that there are 3.6 – 3.8 million concussions every year and experts agree that many more undetected  concussions likely occur.

In fact, what  research shows is that unaddressed and multiple concussions can lead to second impact syndrome and  have a devastating effect on a child’s life. While the potential is more obvious in contact sports leading to a higher risk of concussions and multiple concussions the real problem is not every concussion is recognized and reported. This is known as a silent concussion. Whether it is a mild bump on the head in the game or the result of sudden acceleration or deceleration forces with a head securely protected in a high tech helmet, a concussion can occur without being immediately recognized, potentially leading to long term complications. Now, telling the serious nature of concussion, we are pleased to share with you an educational preview of Head Games: The Global Concussion Crisis from the acclaimed director Steve James (Academy Award-nominated Hoop Dreams, Emmy Award winner The Interrupters)Take a look!

In my last Blog post, entitled: Visual tracking problems and silent concussions- WHY parents, the public and Optometrists need to know  I described how there is a way to know with nearly 100% reliability that your child has been concussed. But, first it requires a simple and fast test to establish your child’s “baseline”. The King-Devick Testhas been proven to be a very low cost, fast and reliable method to detect impairments in eye movements associated with concussions. After establishing an annual baseline King-Devick Test, subsequent testing will effectively detect a potential concussive injury allowing for more rapid and effective treatment, if necessary.

So, if we know “why” and “how” a serious problem exists, the question remaining is “what” should parents do to take action? We ask that parents and the public at large join with us, the VisionHelp Group, as part of a national public awareness initiative called the VisionHelp Concussion Project and speak out to advocate for early detection of concussions. Specifically, we are recommending that the King-DevickTest  be performed by all Doctors who work with children, especially Doctors of Optometry to  establish baseline for all patients, especially for young children and teens who are at higher risk.

Dan L. Fortenbacher, O.D., FCOVD