Mayo Clinic Teams Up With Optometrist To Tackle Concussions


It was a little over two years ago that Crain’s Chicago Business did a feature story on Steve Devick, O.D.  The story noted that Dr. Devick became involved in concussion issues because of a graduate school thesis he co-wrote in 1976 and for which he received a “B.” That project, resulting in the King-Devick Test, has emerged as a promising tool for rapid sideline concussion detection to aid in the decision to remove an athlete from play.

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Dr. Devick’s paper, written while he and co-author Alan King were students at the Illinois College of Optometry, provided a quick test to measure saccadic eye movement. It was not designed with concussion in mind.  Dr. Devick made that connection only in 2009, when he chanced upon a study by a group of New Zealand physicians who found that in a certain number of post-concussion syndrome cases, the only physical defect was saccadic eye movement. The physicians had used an electro-oculograph, which wasn’t a practical field test. Dr. Devick thought the King-Devick Test might help.  “I started thinking, because of this whole map of your brain that these eye movement pathways cover, that maybe it would give you an indication of a concussion,” he says.

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It appears that Dr. Devick was correct, as will be detailed in tomorrow’s edition of USA Today.  Beyond its application in Optometry for the past 35+ years as related to reading, the King-Devick Test is on the doorstep of becoming the go-to test in quick sideline screening for concussions.  The Mayo Clinic has particpated in studies utilizing the King-Devick Test, and has enthusiastically endorsed it.

Now the Mayo Clinic has gone one step further.  In a press conference earlier this morning, they announced under the terms of a new licensing agreement, that the King-Devick Concussion Screening Test will be formally recognized as the King-Devick Test In Association With Mayo Clinic.  You can listen to the 30 minute clip of the presentation through the Mayo Clinic endorsing the King-Devick as a gold standard test here.

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Developmental optometrists are in the unique position of being authorities on the use of a test that one of our colleagues pioneered many years ago, in addition to being very familiar with the training of saccadic functions.  Today’s announced collaboration provides us, on a silver platter, with the opportunity to utilize this knowledge for the benefit of countless numbers of athletes around the world.

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