VOMS: What It Is And Why We Use It

VOMS: What It Is And Why We Use It

 Just like expert craftsmen and engineers require tools to do their job precisely and with skill, clinicians also require the right tools to diagnose concussions and measure the extent of injury in patients. One of the most powerful tools they now have is called the VOMS. The what? Don’t worry, we promise it’s more pleasant than it sounds.

What is the VOMS Test?

Derived from an abbreviation for Vestibular/Ocular Motor Screening, the VOMS, according to our research, is 90% accurate in identifying patients with concussion. Requiring only minimal equipment, such as a tape measure and a metronome, it has been shown to be a reliable and consistent tool for concussion assessment when used in combination with clinical interview, symptom evaluation, and computerized neurocognitive testing.

How Does It Work?

The VOMS assesses five areas of the vestibular and ocular systems: smooth pursuits, saccades (or rapid eye movement), vestibular ocular reflex, visual motion sensitivity and near-point-of-convergence distance (how close or far from a patient’s face an object can before they have experience double vision). It might look like a series of simple exercises, but these measurements provide a vast amount of insight into each individual concussion.

So Why Do We at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program Use It?

Clinicians at UPMC don’t just utilize the VOMS, we developed this brief clinical screening tool. Tests that had formerly been thought to be useful in diagnosing concussion like Sideline Assessment of Concussion (SAC), Sport Concussion Assessment Tool-3 (SCAT-3), the Balance Error Scoring System (BESS) and others focus just on balance, potentially missing important pieces of the concussion puzzle. What VOMS does that other methods don’t is leverage research that identifies the vestibular ocular system – which is responsible for integrating vision, balance and movement – as being the most accurate predictor of long-term outcomes from sports-related concussions.

Essentially, our research found that vision issues, fogginess, and dizziness are often symptoms associated with a prolonged recovery for patients. So, we set out to create an evidence-based examination to isolate and properly assess these areas. Thus, the VOMS was born and is gaining recognition and acceptance in the assessment and management of concussions.