Last fall, prep football coaches and athletic trainers across the country found themselves learning to more accurately diagnose concussions on the fly, all in attempts to better respond to more stringent regulations designed to limit teen injuries. Those efforts met with mixed results, with coaches desperate to protect their players, but also hesitant to lose a key player.
Well, that in-game process may have just become easier, for one simple reason. You guessed it: There's an app for that.
As reported by the News & Observer, The Gadgeteer and a handful of other sources, there's a new smartphone, iPad and iPod application on the block that could dramatically ease the concussion diagnosis process for relative head trauma novices. It's called Concussion Recognition & Response, and has been designed by a group called Pyschological Assessment Resources, Inc. The new app will walk coaches or trainers through a question-by-question, 14-step analysis process to determine whether a player has suffered a concussion while competing in a game or practice.
In fact, the app does even more than that: It will grab the GPS location off the phone its being run on as a location provider and provide a direct button with which to signal for an ambulance if the app determines one is needed.
"We have a lot of good information out there in a written form, but we wanted something that would pull it together and be very easy to use," Dr. Gerard A. Gioia, one of the app's creators, told the News & Observer. "With the paper version, you have to negotiate through the pages. With the app, we can deliver information and take in information."
While the app's primary purpose is geared towards evaluating a potential brain injury on the spot, it also includes additional information for parents and others providing guidance to determine when it is safe for an athlete to return to action, and how to treat them until then.
If the $3.99 cost of the app was a stumbling block for any potential parent or coach purchaser, they can at least take heart in knowing that the proceeds from their purchase will go to the Matthew Gfeller Center at UNC Chapel Hill and to the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., both of which have connections to Gioia's clinical and research career.
Naturally, it's unrealistic to assume that a simple app will dramatically decrease the number of concussions in prep sports. Yet it still may be able to make a significant difference according to athletic trainers who have seen its demo version, including Middle Creek (N.C.) High certified athletic trainer Bill Burniston.
"You really wonder if kids are injured away from school and they go untreated because parents or coaches didn't recognize the signs and symptoms.
"This app could really help."