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New test to determine if athletes have sustained a concussion

A study will be presented this April at the American Academy of Neurology conference describing a simple test that measures reaction time which the study authors claim can help assess whether athletes have suffered a concussion and when they're able to resume playing.

In a news release Dr. James T. Eckner  of the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Michigan is quoted as saying "Research has shown that reaction time is slower after a concussion -- even as long as several days after other symptoms have gone. But the tests currently used to measure reaction time require computers and special software,"

He claims that he and his team have created a simple, inexpensive device that measures reaction time. It consists of a cylinder attached to a weighted disk. The health examiner releases the device and the athlete catches it as quickly as possible.

The researchers tested the device on 209 college football, wrestling and women's soccer athletes during preseason physicals. Any of the athletes who suffered a concussion during the season took the test again within three days of the concussion.

According to the study authors, of the eight athletes who suffered a concussion, seven had a longer reaction time (about 15 percent longer) than they did on the preseason test, the study authors noted.

"Because of its simplicity and low cost, this test may work well with youth athletes, where there is limited access to computerized testing of reaction time," Eckner said.

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