Editor’s Note: This week, PAR is pleased to welcome guest blogger Alex Trujillo. A senior at Holderness School in Plymouth, New Hampshire, Alex is an intern this summer in the production department at PAR. He recently had the opportunity to try out our new Concussion Recognition & Response™ app.
As a high school athlete, I experience the culture of sports in an acute way from the inside. Every day on the field, I am in an environment that perpetuates toughness, playing through pain, doing whatever it takes to win, and doing this all for the good of the team. While in principle this is not so horrible (even though it goes against the dogma that fun should be the underlying principle of amateur athletics), it is often taken too far in the wrong ways.
PAR’s Concussion Recognition & Response™ app is part of the growing trend that discourages “toughing out” injuries to the head, as these specific injuries can have extremely negative effects on an athlete if not handled properly. This trend challenges old–fashioned coaches who speak of the “glory days” when one played through absolutely any injury, coaches who believe that the new wave of players should embrace this antiquated ideology. The athletes of today are bigger, stronger, and faster than ever before. Yet some coaches put their athletes in danger by pushing them in ways that are perilous to their health. It is good for a coach to motivate and push a player to their physical limits and beyond. This is what good coaches do: They get the most out of every player on their team. However, some coaches try to push their players through injuries, such as concussions, without knowledge of the severity of the injury. Playing through strained muscles, soreness, bumps and bruises, aches and pains is all part of sports. However, a head injury is not something that can be “toughed out.” Research has shown that some cases of degenerative brain diseases, for example Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and various other ailments, can be attributed to continuous abuse of the head over the course of an athletic career. The culture of toughing out all injuries, including those to the head, needs to stop now. The first step towards a change in culture is education about the topic, which is what PAR’s new Concussion Recognition & Response app can help to do.
I have tried the app out myself, and it is very easy to use. It takes the user through a series of yes or no questions, listing symptoms of a concussion and whether or not the athlete displays any of those symptoms. Included are ways to record how the injury occurred, immediate and delayed symptoms, and GPS coordinates to show of the location of the incident.
It would make me feel safer and more supported as an athlete if this app was available on the sideline. If I were to sustain some kind of head trauma—get my “bell rung”—it would be comforting to know that an educated decision about whether to continue playing could be made, even when I was not in the presence of an athletic trainer.
A new Concussion Recognition & Response™ app from PAR allows coaches and parents to quickly determine whether an individual is exhibiting and/or reporting the signs and symptoms of a suspected concussion. In less than 5 minutes, coaches and parents can complete a checklist of possible signs and symptoms to help them decide whether to remove the child from play and seek medical attention. The app also provides home symptom monitoring for post-injury follow-up. Designed for the iPhone®, iPad®, iPod® Touch, or Android device or tablet, the app is now available for download from the Apple® App StoreSM or Android Market.
Using information from the CDC’s Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports program, the app guides users through a set of questions to determine the likelihood of a suspected concussion based on observations by the parent or coach as well as symptoms reported by the athlete. The device’s GPS records where the incident took place; its camera enables you to photograph the injured party; e-mail allows you to forward accurate information and documentation to a health care provider.
After follow-up with health care providers, the app enables a parent or caregiver to record a child’s symptoms through periodic evaluations, which are tracked during the hours, days, or weeks following an injury. This information can be e-mailed to health care professionals, providing an update on the athlete’s recovery.
The app also includes a Return-to-Play Guide that helps protect children and athletes from further injury by guiding them through a 5-step, tiered exercise routine. In collaboration with the child’s health care provider, parents and coaches can use the guide to ensure that the child is able to handle added exercise without further injury or discomfort. The app’s concussion information section provides general information about concussions along with answers to frequently asked questions for parents and coaches.
Users may customize the look and feel of the app with sport-related themes, including hockey, football, and lacrosse—and more themes will be available soon.
PAR’s Concussion Recognition & Response app was developed by concussion experts Gerard A. Gioia, PhD, and Jason Mihalik, PhD. Gioia is a pediatric neuropsychologist and the chief of the Division of Pediatric Neuropsychology at Children’s National Medical Center, where he directs the Safe Concussion Outcome, Recovery & Education (SCORE) Program. Mihalik is an assistant professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of North Carolina; he currently serves as the co-director of the Matthew A. Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center.
PAR will donate a portion of all proceeds from the sale of this app to support concussion research at the Children’s National Medical Center and the Matthew A. Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center.