Growing awareness for optometry’s role in concussion assessment
By far, falls are the most common cause of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in the United States, yet it’s under the stadium lights that TBI continues to generate headlines—and it’s here that the role of optometry in injury assessment also is grabbing attention.
Football is the leading cause of organized sports-related TBI nationwide. Data from the NCAA Injury Surveillance Program shows concussions comprised 8 percent of college football injuries—of 24 programs tracked—with a 1-season concussion risk of 5 percent in 2015. And when it came to high school football, there was an even higher 10 percent 1-season concussion risk, according to a July 2015 study published in JAMA Pediatrics.
Nearly 50 percent of the brain is devoted to vision, meaning optometrists are a crucial part of a multidisciplinary approach to care. Concussed patients often display signs of vision problems, including accommodative disorders, convergence insufficiency and saccadic dysfunction.
“Optometrists are an integral part in the diagnosing and treatment of the traumatic brain injury patient” says Dr. Maria Richman, past chair of the AOA Vision Rehabilitation Section.
Sideline tests now track visual processing to determine concussion likelihood, and emergent technology also recognizes eye doctors’ strengths in determining abnormal eye movements and feedback.