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New Test May Make It Easier To Diagnose Concussions

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The NFL season may be coming to an end, but the concern over concussions remains a top priority.  Researchers are beginning to use a simple sideline test that can quickly detect head trauma. 

Tim Williams reports it’s one minute that could save a life.

Children and teens who suffer concussions are in far greater danger than adults because their brains are less developed and take longer to heal.  New research reveals frightening risks and it starts with the basics.

“A concussion happens when you just bump your head and it’s a severe bump,” said Dr. David Bishai, St. Joseph Medical Center. “It wouldn’t be as much of an issue if we didn’t realize that the second head bump after a concussion can be lethal.”

At just 14, soccer star Abby Cahalan suffered an injury that would change her young life.

“I had a bloody nose,” Cahalan said.  “People were trying to take care of me and fix up my nose.”

But the problem was a concussion.

Now, newly implemented guidelines will help diagnose this problem quicker.

Bishai, a doctor in the emergency room, explains the King-Devick test.

“You take your athletes when they’re OK at the beginning of the season and you give them a score on their ability to read a set of numbers,” he said.

And whether amateur or pro, if you suffer a head bump or injury, you’re given the test again.

“The coach says, ‘Let’s see you do the King-Devick test.  If you’re five seconds slower on the King-Devick test, the coach has a reason to bench you,'” Bishai said.

Each season, nearly one out of five high school athletes suffers a concussion.  That equates to nearly 300,000 children a year.

“This could save lives,” Bishai said.

Doctors stress getting medical attention and not rushing back into a physical activity if you suspect a head injury has been suffered.

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