To assess the frequency of reported head injuries in youth community Rugby Union and determine whether the King-Devick (K-D) test could be used by parents as a means to chart cognitive recovery following head injury.


A prospective cohort study of 489 junior players (U9-U18) conducted at a community level Rugby Union club over four seasons. All players undertook a baseline K-D test at the start of each season. Players identified with suspected concussion performed the K-D test post injury and results were compared to their most recent baseline assessment. Parent/Guardians of the player then oversaw repeated daily testing until baseline scores were surpassed.


49 players were sent for assessment after suspected head injury. 46 parents oversaw daily repeated K-D testing (93.8% engagement). The median reduction in K-D test performance speed post-injury from baseline was 7.32 s (IQR 2.46 – 7.98). A median of 5.1 days/tests were taken for players to surpass baseline performance. No correlation was found between initial post-injury test and cognitive recovery time. 38 head injuries were reported from match play with an incidence rate of 12.7 per 1000 match hours (95% CI 9.2 –17.5).


The K-D test is a practical tool for baseline, post injury and parentally supervised repeated testing within youth community Rugby Union. Incidence of reported head injuries following match play is higher than previously reported. Parental engagement was high. Post-Injury K-D test performance should not be used as a means to predict symptom recovery.

Summary Points:

  • The mean reduction in the post-injury K-D Test score in this youth rugby population was 7.32 seconds.
  • K-D Test was administered reliably by parents.
  • K-D Test scores returned to baseline after an average of 5.1 days (1-14 day range) following head injury.
  • The K-D Test may aid in measuring aspects of cognitive recovery following a concussion.
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