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Posted on Tue, Feb 16, 2010 : 11:30 a.m.

University of Michigan researchers develop sideline concussion test for athletes

By Tina Reed

If we only had an on-the-spot test for a concussion we could determine whether athletes have suffered one and need to come out of a game or perhaps seek medical attention.

Researchers at the University of Michigan's Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation believe they may have developed such a test, National Public Radio reported today.

Taking research that suggests reaction time is slower up to a few days after a person has suffered a concussion, they developed a low-tech and inexpensive test to measure an athlete's reaction time.

Using a long stick weighted with a hockey puck, the person administering the test must drop the device while the athlete tries to catch it as quickly as possible. Marks on the stick measure how quickly the athlete was able to react.

The researchers gave the test to more than 200 uninjured athletes in Division 1 football, wrestling and women's soccer to test their reaction times. During the sports season, eight of those athletes suffered a concussion and took the test again.

For seven of those athletes, it took 15 percent longer to catch the cyclinder. The researchers say further clinical trials are needed, and the test wouldn't replace computerized diagnosis, but could be a more practical way to evaluate athletes soon after an injury.

The findings will be presented this spring at a meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.

Tina Reed covers health and the environment for You can reach her at, call her at 734-623-2535 or find her on Twitter @TreedinAA.