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New Vestibular Test Aids Evaluation Of Concussion

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A new 5- to 10-minute test could help clinicians make a more comprehensive assessment of concussion patients.

According to a recent study published by the American Journal of Sports Medicine, the Vestibular/Ocular Motor Screening (VOMS) examination could be used by doctors to be 90% accurate in identifying patients with sport-related concussion.

VOMS assesses five areas of the vestibular ocular system: smooth pursuits, saccades (rapid eye movement), horizontal vestibular ocular reflex, visual motion sensitivity and near-point-of-convergence distance. It requires minimal equipment, such as a tape measure and a metronome, and is intended to be another tool in the concussion evaluation toolkit, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC).

Researchers from the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program found previously that the vestibular ocular system, which is responsible for integrating vision, balance and movement, is most predictive of longer outcomes from sports-related concussions. They noted, however, that most current evaluation and management tools for vestibular issues focus on balance, thereby potentially missing important pieces of the concussion puzzle.

Explaining further why the new test was developed, Concussion Program executive and clinical director Michael “Micky” Collins, Ph.D., said: “For the past five to 10 years, our research has revealed that vision issues, fogginess and dizziness are symptoms associated with the worst outcomes in our patients. So we set out to create an evidence-based examination to assess these areas.”

Following a study that involved 64 concussed patients and 78 healthy control-group subjects, the researchers concluded that VOMS demonstrated internal consistency as well as sensitivity in identifying patients with concussions.