Joseph Harris, PT, ATC, has volunteered his Athletic Training Services to the Grayson County Schools Athletic Programs since 1995. His company, Physical Therapy Solutions (PTS) is the Official Sports Medicine Provider for the Grayson County High School and Middle School. Recognizing the risk of concussion to student-athletes at Grayson County High School and Middle School, and the short-term and long-term, and sometimes devastating effects of closed head injury, Harris researched a number of concussion screening tests.
“l was looking for a testing procedure that was economical, easy to use, practical, reliable, and valid in screening for concussions,” Harris said. “I chose the King-Devick Test because it is a quick, easy test that can be administered by parents, coaches, and Athletic Trainers and has been proven to effectively screen for concussions.”
A concussion is a complex pathophysiologic process that affects the brain and is typically the result of trauma to the brain. When an athlete gets hit, the brain can move rapidly inside the skull and impact the inside of the skull causing neurological disturbance to the brain. Symptoms can include headaches, nausea, difficulty with memory and concentration, irritability, sleep disturbances, and changes in appetite or energy levels. A concussion is a brain injury. Long-term effects include the development of cognitive impairments, and post-concussion syndrome. It is imperative that an athlete fully recovers from one concussion before risking a subsequent one.
When a person has a concussion, a number of brain functions are affected, including vision, eye movements, language, and attention. The King-Devick Test provides a quick and reliable way to assess these functions. Baseline data are collected on all athletes in the preseason. When an athlete suffers a head injury, the athlete can be tested on the sideline, and that data is compared to the preseason data. Athletes who suffer a concussion tend to test slower than his or her preseason baseline data. When an athlete tests slower, they are not allowed to return to play and are sent to a physician for further medical evaluation before they are allowed to return to play.
While football and soccer pose the highest risk of concussion for boys and girls, respectively, other sports that pose a significant enough risk to undergo screening include basketball, volleyball, cheerleading, softball, and baseball. The CDC estimates that 1.6 million to 3.8 million concussions occur each year. 5-10 percent of athletes will experience a concussion in any given sport.
For many years, Physical Therapy Solutions has been providing Athletic Training Services to Grayson County High School and Middle School at no cost to the school district. This year, Physical Therapy Solutions is making a bigger contribution to the school system to enhance the safety of all student-athletes. In addition to sponsoring this program, Physical Therapy Solutions is providing an additional Athletic Trainer to the school system to provide more extended coverage to all the student-athletes with a daily presence at the school.
“Thanks to all the great support I have gotten from the community over the past 15 years,” said Harris. “It is the support from our community and from the local health care community and physicians that allows PTS to provide this service to our local school system. Without this support, the resources simply would not be available to support this type of endeavor.”
Physical Therapy Solutions sponsors baseline testing protocol