There’s no such thing as a “mild” concussion
Last week I posted about first aid for concussions, which is important because head injuries in kids are a growing concern in the medical and public health communities.
Of particular importance is avoiding the potentially fatal “second impact syndrome”; if a young athlete suffers a “mild” concussion and then sustains another within a few weeks, “diffuse cerebral swelling, brain herniation, and death can occur.” Luckily, it’s rare.
But even minor concussions need to be recognized and treated, and it can be difficult because symptoms are often subtle and most parents and coaches aren’t highly-trained neurologists.
Well, now there’s a mobile app for that. Two, actually.
ImPACT stands for “Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing”, and this company is a leader in developing concussion assessment and management tools.
The Sideline ImPACT app is available for iOS phones and tablets and costs $3.99.
Sideline impact is a tool designed to help identify signs and symptoms that are often associated with concussion. This test consists of several brief cognitive tests as well as a symptom inventory in which the athlete is asked to rate the severity of post-concussion symptoms.
Inexpensive and easy to use, this app can help parents and coaches quickly assess a child’s injury, but the company cautions:
Sideline ImPACT is NOT a diagnostic test to make return to play decisions, but it DOES capture important information that can assist in ongoing management and care of the suspected injury.
Sway Balance System
Sway Medical’s Balance System mobile app for iOS devices is being marketed to health professionals, including doctors, nurses, physical therapists and athletic trainers.
Sway Medical partnered with ImPACT to develop a more sophisticated assessment tool that uses a phone or tablet’s accelerometer to to measure “postural sway,” an indication of concussion risk. Baselines can be set for individuals, and on-going assessment data using balance and other cognitive tests can be measured over time.
This data can be stored and shared across devices with other health professionals.
The Sway Balance mobile app is an “FDA-cleared mobile device.” Michael Zagorski, Sway Medical’s Director of Quality and Regulatory, clarifies:
This evaluation by the FDA ensures that the device is safe and effective. This means that the device was designed following certain rules (i.e. design controls), thoroughly tested and validated to ensure it performs the way the company claims it does. In addition, most companies marketing medical device must operate following Quality System Regulations (similar to Quality System Standards such as ISO 9001 or ISO 13485).
In the end this means that a customer or a user can have a much higher trust in a product that is a medical device and is cleared by the FDA.
In other words, this app has undergone a more rigorous review of its intended use and function than most health and fitness apps.
Since it is aimed at a more professional market, user accounts must be purchased and cost about $200 a year. Schools or communities with large youth sports programs might benefit from such a subscription.