The Washington Post

App helps diagnose concussions in youth sports

When a child suffers a potential concussion while playing a sport, parents and coaches alike might search anywhere nearby for help. Now they can start by picking up a smartphone.

Gerard Gioia, chief neuropsychologist at Children’s National Medical Center, helped develop the “Concussion Recognition & Response” application for parents and coaches. It’s available for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Android devices for $3.99.

“This application is really built for the non-medical provider,” Gioia said in an interview, adding that it uses data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Heads Up” materials, which he also helped develop.

App users answer yes-no questions about signs of a concussion, such as memory and balance problems, vomiting and confusion. There are also yes-no questions about symptoms including headache, blurry vision and sensitivity to light. The app user is alerted that there’s a “Concussion suspected” or “A concussion is NOT suspected at this time.”

The app can also be used to e-mail data to a physician, go through an at-home monitoring guide or a “Return-to-Play” guide with tips on recovery. There’s a research component, too. Upon opening the app for the first time, users are asked to submit data to an anonymous research project.

“There’s quite a challenge in recognizing youth concussions, especially because they often don’t have athletic trainers and doctors at events,” Gioia said. “With this [research], we can see how effective we are in educating coaches and informing parents to make the call on the field.”

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