The Concussion App

By Ross Lippman |

Published 05/06 2014 08:25PM

Updated 05/07 2014 10:46PM

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. -  For years, Rice Memorial Senior Katrina Derderian underestimated how powerful a concussion can be. 

"I thought concussions were a myth before I got them. You almost can't see anything wrong."

Of course we now know that concussions are very real. Derderian came to realize this, suffering from not on, but three concussions during her athletic career. Rice Memorial's Athletic Trainer, Meg Quiet, has treated her for all three.

"She's definitely a unique situation", Quiet told us, "You typically don't have a kid almost a year after having post-concussion symptoms."

These concussions affected Katrina beyond the playing field.

"The concussions not ruined my college plans, but certainly changed them. My GPA had dropped. I've had to drop a lot of clubs. I can't keep up with the same things that I used to."

Derderian also decided the games she loves to play; lacrosse, ice hockey and field hockey are no longer options.

"I'm no longer to play sports, as far as I'm concerned."

Since Katrina suffered her first concussion, the sports world has seen a dramatic change in concussion awareness. You can see these changed within the protocol of nearly every high school across the country. Standardized test, like the SCAT2 are used by high schools all over the country, Rice Memorial included.

"If there's any question that maybe a child has sustained a concussion, we sit them out for 15 to 20 minutes."

Click on a heading to sort the table. 

Data from the Child Safety Network.

Tests like the SCAT 2 are designed to test brain function, as well as short and long term memory, after an athlete has suffered a concussion.

But in concussion prevention and detection, Dr. Jason Mihalik of the University of North Carolina's department of Exercise and Sports Science, thinks we can do better. 

"I honestly think that smartphone and tablet technologies are the next wave of what we see in concussions from a diagnostic standpoint."

Dr. Mihalik's team created 'PAR Concussion Recognition and Response', a free app designed for use on the sidelines, to determine whether an athlete is suffering from a concussion. It asks a series of simple questions, indicators of significant symptoms a concussed athlete may experience. It's easy to use, and Dr. Mihalik says it works. 

"The purpose of our app was not to create a diagnostic tool, but to create an information tool. What were trying to do is give coaches and parents information that would be sufficient for them to say 'my kid should probably not be participating in sport until after their physician takes a look at them'."

Today, in the age of concussion awareness, students like Katrina can now receive the proper care both on and off the field to prevent further damage. 

"I think it is a sign of the times," says Dr. Mihalik, "There's no three and out rule when it comes to when to retire from sport."

But if we can detect concussions sooner, athletes like Katrina may not have to retire from sport so soon.

Download the Concussion Recognition and Response app for Apple devices or Android devices.

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