Catching Concussions

Why isn't every football team using the King-Devick concussion test? It’s currently being used in the NCAA and in some parts of the military. Parents could even administer the test on the sideline. CEO of King-Devick Technologies, Steve Devick joins Dan and Amy to discuss his groundbreaking technology on concussion testing.

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Dan Proft: Thank you for joining us, appreciate it. Steve Devick: Thank you, good morning. Proft: Good morning. So, tell us what the King-Devick Test is, and how it differs from what some people, like Amy, kind of understand to be how you identify concussion. Devick: Well, it’s based on the fact that ocular motor function, which is the eye movements involved in moving your eyes from word to word in reading, are distributed all over your brain, those pathways. And, when in fact, you have a concussion, almost always those pathways are in some way interrupted. So your ability to read to numbers on a very brief test is diminished when you have a concussion. Certainly, Amy, when you have vomiting or headaches or that kind of thing, those are other symptoms as well. Sometimes though, and quite often actually, cognitive defects like “Who’s the President?”, “What day is it?”, those show up later, and the defect in your ocular motor function shows up instantly after a concussion. So it’s a “Removed From Play” test, it’s used on the sideline, parents can use it, and it’s used all over the world. Amy Jacobson: Well, how is it administered? I mean you say you can use it on the sideline… Devick: It’s a series of numbers that are randomly spaced...you have a baseline every year...and you read them as fast as you can on three different cards without making any mistakes, that’s your baseline. And, with 90% specificity and sensitivity when you have a concussion, your ability to do that is diminished instantly after having a concussion. So, it’s a good sideline test, to just tell you, even in cognition, even when the player is saying “I’m fine, I’m fine!”, 90% of the time they’ll have a defect on this test. Proft: Well, and so when you say “Establish a baseline”, so it’s for each individual player? Baseline when they’re healthy, and then to test them when they get injured, and taken off the field, and they’re feeling like they...they’re feeling like they may have had...a head to head contact and have a concussion. Devick: Yeah. As a matter of fact, when kids are learning to read, they’re becoming more proficient at this task, of naming numbers every year. So you need an annual baseline, and with young kids you need maybe every six months. But you know, your ability to perform this gets better every year until you’re about 35, and then starts diminishing. But you know, the test is also used for monitoring performance in progression of disease, and Alzheimer’s Disease, and MS, and Parkinson’s, and many other applications. We...all of this is supported by over 100 peer-reviewed papers in elite neurology journals. It’s not like it’s just my opinion, it’s the opinion of experts all over the world. And, as you mentioned, the Mayo Clinic, that was a big deal to make...make it to the point where it was so validated that they co-branded with us, so the test is called “The King-Devick Test, in association with Mayo Clinic”. Jacobson: Well, how many people are you helping now? How many people have bought this, or are, you know, using the King-Devick test? Devick: Well, it’s used...you know, hundreds of thousands are using it on subjects around the world. For instance, as Dan mentioned, you know, Notre Dame, Ohio State used it, those kinds of things. The NHL uses it. The Canadian Football League was contracted by the National Football League to test it a few years ago, and the Canadian Football League mandates it now. And I think the NFL is going to, their statement has been they’ll evaluate the...the results of the Canadian Football League. Which, you know, the results have been partially published and they’re excellent, and they’ll make a decision on that. But I think they’ll get there. Proft: Well, what about going down to the amateur...beyond the elite programs, Ohio State, Notre Dame, to high schools and grade school football? Is that an area it should be applied as well, and is it being? Devick: Yeah, it is. And actually, the test has been validated down to 5-year olds. So, and that’s the really important time to have...to know that you’ve had a concussion and need to be removed. Because, you know, your brain isn’t fully myelinated at those ages, so the damage from a concussion can be much greater for a younger person. So I guess the question always comes into play, should you be exposing yourself to repetitive head trauma when you’re under 12 years old, when you’re a toddler, more or less...not a toddler, but a five-year old’s not much older than a toddler, and that’s when football programs stop...er, start in some cases. So, you know, those are decisions parents have to make. Proft: Now, with respect to repeated trauma, we’ve talked about this on the show before, repeated head trauma, some of the research that’s being done by folks at Boston University, where they actually trace back, for example, Lou Gehrig, and how many instances of head trauma he suffered as a baseball player and whether that was connected to ALS. And so I wonder if this test is being used in conjunction with other researchers or research institutions in the space, particularly since it’s been peer-reviewed and validated as you mentioned. Devick: Yeah, it’s being used and...right now, the NCAA, and the Department of Defense is evaluating it in a massive study along with other tests. But it’s been...really the beauty of it is that it’s something that parents can administer on the sidelines. It doesn’t take any special training to...as a matter of fact, for years before from...for a long time prior, and so it was discovered that these saccadic eye movements were really the first physical sign of a concussion, it was used to determine if your inability to read properly had anything to do with your eye movements. And for years it’s been in all the medical dictionaries relative to evaluating performance in reading in elementary school kids. So yeah, the institutions that are looking at it are just a who’s who of elite medical institutions around the world. Proft: And you mentioned Department of Defense, an application for soldiers as well? Devick: Well there is, and they haven’t mandated it yet, but it’s used in parts of the military on...in December, we’re gonna be appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, we’ve been invited to talk about it there. And, we think that is something that should be part of the induction procedure, get a baseline. And, you know, there’s been two military studies, done BY the military, both of which suggested that it should be mandated for all war fighters. Proft: So if parents have their kids in PeeWee Football, or even at the high school level, they should be inquiring about whether the coaches or the staff with oversight responsibilities are using this test? Devick: Yes. And you know, to a lot...to a large degree, especially you know in hockey, it is being used a lot at the lower levels. And hockey has taken some steps that junior football hasn’t, for instance, no-check leagues until you’re older. And you mentioned the guys out of Boston, and they correlated the...not the number of concussions reported, as to whether you got chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is CTE. But they correlated most to when you began repetitive head trauma, “When did you begin football?” That was the biggest indicator of when...the likelihood of CTE, as a matter of fact, I think. Proft: Alright, he is Steve Devick, the CEO of the King-Devick Technologies. And the test again is the King-Devick Test in Association with Mayo Clinic, so your kids are in sports, you want to talk to those leagues and coaches about whether they’re using this test when you have an event that involves head trauma. Steve, that’ll...oh, I’m sorry, go ahead? Devick: I was actually just going to say it’s just an app on...it’s an iPad app, that’s what it is. That’s how you… Proft: Oh, okay. So it’s that easy. So you can get it...you can just go to Google, or Apple Store, right? Devick: That’s right. Proft: Okay. He is Steve Devick, CEO of King-Devick Technologies. Steve, thanks for joining us, and Happy Thanksgiving. Devick: Thank you so much, and a Happy Thanksgiving to you! Jacobson: And he joined us on our Turnkey Dot Pro Answer Line.

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