Sports concussions have captured public attention in recent years, with high-profile NFL players and other professional athletes stepping forward about the long-term effects of sports-related head injuries. Now, a new web-based program, Complete Neuro Sport, aims to guide coaches, athletes, and parents through the process of sports-related concussion management.
A 2011 study by the National Federation of State High School Associations estimated that 140,000 high school athletes suffer sports-related concussions each year.
In response to growing concerns about the safety of youth athletes, states increasingly are passing laws that mandate protocol for concussion evaluation and treatment: As of press time, 37 states and the District of Columbia impose legal requirements on schools to ensure that athletic departments meet certain requirements before the start of sports seasons. But these concussion rules vary in effectiveness.
“We have these mandatory concussions laws, but a lot of schools’ method of compliance is to hand a sheet to parents and ask them to sign. That really defeats the purpose,” said Harry Kerasidis, M.D., a co-founder of Complete Neuro Sport and neurologist with a private practice. “What we’re trying to do is truly educate parents as to why concussions occur and so on.”
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Developed based on Kerasidis’ neurological expertise and created by software developer Claudio Lassala, Complete Neuro Sport aims to provide a comprehensive concussion management program for schools and their communities, with education and baseline testing in the pre-season, sideline assessments that a coach or athletic trainer can administer during a game, and step-by-step guidance through the recovery process. Every stage of the process, which is in the final stages of beta testing and should enter the market in the fall, is web-based and can be accessed through computers or smart phones, the company says.
Other software programs, such as ImPACT, already exist to help schools conduct baseline testing on student athletes, so they have something to compare against when a student sustains a head injury. But Complete Neuro Sport bills itself as a complete, turnkey solution to managing sports concussions.
The process would begin during the pre-season with registration and education. A coach or athletic trainer would send parents and students eMail invitations to the Complete Neuro Sport online program. After creating usernames and passwords, the parents and students would watch an educational video and be required to pass a quiz on the information presented.
Once they have completed the educational requirements, students would undergo baseline tests to measure their brain performance through tasks such as memorizing word lists and measuring reaction time. Students also would complete a 30- to 45-minute physical fitness questionnaire about symptoms commonly associated with concussion injuries, such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, and imbalance. If the student suffers a concussion later, the results of the baseline test can help medical professionals determine when that student has fully recovered and can return to play.