Vision Training & the Effects on Concussion Occurrence

An article published at the University of Cincinnati showed promising results in concussion prevention. According to this article, football players who underwent vision training as part of their pre-season workout showed a significant reduction in the incidence of concussions throughout the season. This study shows a significant correlation between vision training and the reduction of concussion occurrences.

Concussions are a hot topic in almost every sport. As this article notes, the general emphasis of sports teams and healthcare professionals appears to be directed towards concussion management and identification. Being able to identify an athlete who has suffered a concussion, so they can be pulled from play, is very important. However, if the risk of concussion can be reduced altogether, that’s even more beneficial.

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This article goes on to report that the incidence of concussions of the players who underwent vision training was 1.4 per 100 game exposures versus 9.2 concussions per 100 game exposures for those who didn’t have vision training. The results of vision training are astounding. Moreso, not only did vision training appear to aid in the protection of players health, but it also reduced the amount of missed playing time due to injury.

Vision training was conducted for approximately 40 minutes a day, 6-7 days a week for about 2.5 weeks. Primary attention was placed on the development of eye-hand reaction, peripheral vision, tachistoscopic training, and eye-hand coordination via Nike Strobe glasses.

The results of this study show how vision training can be used as a tool to reduce the incidence of concussion. Football was the example used in this study, however, it would apply to many other sports. The article makes a strong argument for the benefits of vision training because the study was conducted over a 4-year span and included 4 different coaching regimes. This would eliminate the possible association with a type of “coaching style” as the reason for reduced concussion. Also, it was during a time period when other school football programs, not incorporating vision training, were continuing to report an increased incidence of concussion.

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As we continue to develop a better understanding of concussion, functional visual skills (eye teaming, eye tracking, peripheral vision) show continued importance. This article shows the potential that vision training can have on the prevention of concussion incidence and suggests more emphasis should be placed on incorporating vision training into an athlete's training program.

Ryan Edwards, OD, FCOVD
Developmental Optometrist
Dynamic Center for Vision Therapy

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