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    Concussion Information for Home or On the Go

    March 15th, 2012

    There are two new and wonderful resources about concussion. You know we write a lot about mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), and it takes a lot to impress us, but these resources are truly special:  One is a physician-developed smart phone app designed to help coaches, parents, and athletes recognize and assess concussion; the other is a CDC info pamphlet about recognizing and treating concussion in children, including strategies for addressing concussion symptoms at school.

    There’s an App for Concussion, Too!

    When they say “There’s an App for That,” they’re not kidding…and that’s a good thing.

    Concussion Recognition & Response gives real-time advice about recognizing and treating concussion. Menu items include “NEW INCIDENT,” which walks you through a series of assessment screens, including evaluative questions, such as “Was there likely a blow to the head or body, jerking the head?”, and did you observe vomiting, balance problems, or other specific (and listed) signs of concussion?

    The app also provides a list of criteria to help you decide whether to treat a head injury as an emergency and call 911, questions to ask the child who experienced the head injury, and Frequently Asked Questions. Finally, the app tells you whether a concussion is likely, what led to that assessment, and what you should do about it. (Of course, there is a disclaimer at the first page of the app which states:  This application is not intended to replace seeking help from a trained medical professional. If the youth has lost consciousness, even briefly, call 911 immediately.  That makes sense—no app should ever replace common sense or rational concern when it comes to a child’s health.)

    Should you need to seek medical attention for the child, the app provides a summary of all the information you input to share with a doctor…even by email.

    Concussion Recognition & Response” (CRR) is available on iTunes and Android Market. It works on smart phones, iPods, and tablets (such as the iPad). It was developed by two experts with ties to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH), Jason Mihalik, Ph.D., an assistant professor of Exercise and Sports Science in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, and Gerard Gioia, Ph.D. (UNC ’84) of the George Washington University School of Medicine. This new app is so impressive that it has already been nominated for an Appy Award–and it is one of three finalists in the medical category. The app is priced at $3.99 for a limited time, and a portion of the proceeds of the sale go to support concussion research at the Children’s National Medical Center, and the Matthew A. Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center.

    According to developer Dr. Mihalik:

    “We see as many as 60 percent of concussions go unreported or undiagnosed,” Mihalik said. “This app will really help to provide a systematic diagnostic approach to that injury, and we’re hopeful that it will capture more diagnoses of concussions so that kids can be managed properly.”

    And despite the focus on sports, don’t think that the benefits of this app are only for young athletes. According to a press release by UNC:

    “This is not just an application for kids that play sports,” said Karen Earp, as her 9 year-old daughter climbed on playground equipment behind her. “This is an application for anybody and everybody to use whether you play sports, whether you play on a playground, ride your bike or are just outside having fun.”

    For more information about the CRR App, click here:  Concussion App publisher.  (You can find links to the Android Market and iTunes purchase pages here, too.) It is easy to get confused by the offerings on iTunes–there are at least four other concussion-related apps, but this is the best app of this type we have seen..by far. The full name is Concussion Recognition & Response: Coach & Parent Version. And the icon looks like this:

    icon for CRR app

    Information from the CDC to Read at Home

    One of the biggest changes resulting from recent research is how young victims of concussion are treated at home and at school. Questions many parents have are:

    • When can my child start playing sports again?
    • What can I do to ease his or her symptoms?
    • What can I expect in terms of emotional or behavioral changes, or ability to concentrate and do schoolwork?
    • How can we deal with those changes?
    • How long should symptoms last…and what should I do if they don’t seem to get better?
    • How can I get the school involved in my child’s concussion treatment?
    • What experts can we contact if the problem seems not to get better?

    These questions are all answered in a fabulous new PDF document from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) titled Heads up to Schools: Know Your Concussion ABCs. Even though it is called “a fact sheet for school professionals,” parents will find it a valuable tool, as well.

    You can download a free copy of this pamphlet here: http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/pdf/TBI_Returning_to_School-a.pdf