Oculomotor function in collegiate student-athletes with a previous history of sport-related concussion

Braun, Peter
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University of Delaware
Context: Current clinical tools that diagnose and assess concussed athletes do not include a component for measuring oculomotor function. Researchers in optometry and neurology have shown that eye movement deficits in subjects with a history of acquired brain injury exist, but these measurements have not been implemented utilizing an athletic population, or a population with a history of mild brain trauma such as sport-related concussion. Objective: The purpose of this study is to determine if sport-related concussion creates lasting deficits in oculomotor function and learning, as measured by the King-Devick (KD) Test. Design: Quasi-experimental, ex post facto Setting: Laboratory Patients or Other Participants: A total of 170 collegiate athletes were evaluated for oculomotor function. Seventy-three of these subjects had a previous history of sport-related concussion. The remaining participants had no previous history of head injury. Intervention(s): Objective measurements were obtained through the use of the KD Test which assesses the speed of rapid number naming to capture impairments in eye movement. Main Outcome Measure(s): The time to complete (seconds) the KD Test was compared between a control group and a group with a previous history of concussion. The learning effect was also evaluated between the first and second trials across groups. Results: No significant differences existed between groups for oculomotor function (p=0.352) or learning effect (p=0.615). The control group revealed a mean completion time of 38.21s as compared to the experimental group’s mean time of 39.12s. Results from learning effect scores were very similar as well. The group with no previous history of concussion posted a mean improvement time of 2.48s, while the previously concussed group had a mean improvement of 2.68s. Conclusions: With respect to the KD test, no long-term deficits in oculomotor function or learning exist in the collegiate student athlete population after sustaining a concussion.