A new concussion diagnosis app is coming to the rescue in youth sports. While pro teams have the luxury of having sideline doctors and "concussion spotters" in the press boxes, youth sports lacks such resources. Now, new app-based diagnosis technologies such as HHITT (Handheld Head Injury Treatment Tool) are coming to the sidelines to provide youth sports coaches and trainers with a tool that can help sport concussion signs.
How is a concussion diagnosed?
According to concussion experts, diagnosing a concussion can be more art than science. Unlike a visible broken bone or cut, signs of a concussion especially those more mild in nature, are often difficult to spot. According to the Mayo Clinic, a " a concussion is a traumatic brain injury that alters the way your brain functions. Effects are usually temporary but can include headaches and problems with concentration, memory, balance and coordination. With severe concussions the person is often knocked unconscious, vomiting or visibly unstable, but with mild concussions a person can look and act normal and only through a series of neurological exercises can the correct diagnosis be made.
How new apps help with concussion diagnosis.
HHITT and other app-based concussion diagnosis resources simplify the diagnosis process by allowing the injured player to interact with an app. For example, the HHITT app presents a series of problems and questions to the injured player. Their answers are presented instantly to an online physician who evaluates the response and player's interaction with the app. The remote physician evaluates the results and returns a diagnosis back through the app. The whole process takes about 10 minutes according to HHITT.
HHITT is not alone in its quest to improve sideline concussion diagnosis. According to Mom's Team, there are at least 20 app-based concussion diagnosis programs available to aid concussion diagnosis. HHITT is unique in that it include a telemedicine component for professional diagnosis assistance.
These new technologies such as HHITT now make it possible to uncover concussion signs faster and more accurately. However, there are limitations with app-based diagnosis technologies, for example HHITT is designed for kids 12-years and older, poor cellular coverage in some areas and other challenges may not make app-based concussion diagnosis technology universally possible. Ultimately it is the responsibility of the coach and/or trainer to keep a player out if concussion signs are shown or suspected. Soon, no where will it be more welcome see a kid on a smart phone than on the sidelines of a football game.