I think this is fabulous. I am so worried about one of my boys getting a concussion. It would certainly make it a whole lot worse if they got a concussion and got sent back on the field. What a disaster. If this APP is effective in detecting concussions, I say the $25.00 fee is totally worth it.
Even with 300-thousand concussions reported in sports each year, many doctors, like WSU's Jeremy Patterson, believe thousands more are overlooked.
Dr. Jeremy Patterson, WSU, Human Performance Studies: "It's estimated that 80 to 85-percent of concussions go undiagnosed." A key way to test for a concussion is to measure a person's balance, but a machine like this costs about 15-thousand dollars. "Not every facility has the funding of the NFL so local high schools can't really afford to have this balance piece of equipment." That's why Dr. Patterson and a former student are now taking the science to the sidelines, developing a phone app to measure balance.
Chase Curtiss, Former WSU Graduate Student: "It's a quick 3-minute test. The balance is using the accelerometer in the phone. They hold it against their chest, stand on one foot,and we're measuring the sway of their upper body." It also tests a player's balance while walking heel to toe. By comparing these scores.. after a collision on the field to how the athlete *normally performs the test, his trainer will know right away if there's trouble.
Brian Coley, Athletic Trainer, Bishop Kelley High School: "Now we have something definitive that we can go to the coach say, 'Hey, this young man is showing signs of a concussion. He's out for the night, instead of just saying, 'Let's put him back in and see how he does.'" Bishop Kelley high school in Tulsa is one of the first to use the phone app. Until now, its coaches decided whether to bench a player.. based on a standard memory test.
Brian Coley: "Asking them questions, having them count backwards, tell me the months of the year backwards, which some kids say, 'Coach, I can't even do 'em forward, much less backwards!" The phone app has its own version of memory tests -- the player tries to remember words from a list and repeat a sequence of lights. Chase Curtiss: "And then the reaction time is a simple test with a touch screen on the phone, how quickly you respond." Together, these tests should give a good indication of whether the brain is injured, and the player needs to sit out.
Stephanie Bergmann:"But would they? Every player wants to get back in the game, and every coach is under pressure to let 'em so could this little phone app convince them that concussions are nothing to risk?" Brian Coley: "They've always been a big deal, but now that we have studies that show there could be long-term damage from maybe not only one, but repeated.." What's called "Second Hit Syndrome" may have killed a Kansas City-area player last fall.
Researchers in Oklahoma, now conducting a major study on concussions, say even when there are no other symptoms, balance problems can signal a brain injury and if more schools had access to this machine in a mobile device.
Dr. LaMont Cavanagh, University of OK School of Community Medicine: "Having a piece of technology that provides quick, reliable information is critical." But the phone app is still a prototype, and testing continues to validate its reliability. Dr. Patterson:"So far, everything looks pretty promising." Once the software is on the market, dr. patterson sees applications beyond football -- many sports like soccer, hockey, even volleyball are at risk for concussions. Dr. Patterson "tennis, oddly enough, by falling.." But now, the power to minimize that risk.. may be in the palm of your hand -- protecting student athletes from further injury and giving parents.. peace of mind.
The app is called "concussion manager" and at first, will only be available on iphones. Sports teams will be able to subscribe for 25-dollars a player, and they'll be encouraged to test often to detect any changes in brain function throughout the season.
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