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Smart Phone Application for Concussions Puts Guidelines into Parents' and Coaches' Hands

Washington, DCGerard Gioia, PhD, internationally recognized expert on youth concussions and Director of the Concussion program at Children’s National Medical Center, has collaborated in developing a smart phone and tablet application for youth coaches and parents to help them recognize and respond to concussions, the first of its kind.

The application makes information that Dr. Gioia developed with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) easily accessible to parents and coaches. Dr. Gioia partnered with Jason Mihalik, PhD, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in developing the application, published by PAR Inc.

Based on the CDC Heads Up materials, the application takes parents and coaches through basic questions about the signs (what they observe) and symptoms (what an injured athlete reports) to determine if the athlete has suffered a suspected concussion and how to respond. Additionally, an email interface allows detailed information taken on the field to be sent immediately to the athlete’s parents and physicians. The app is available through the Apple app store and the Droid market it works on all Apple and Droid-based smart phones and tablets.

“This new technology supports timely concussion recognition and response, which is essential in deciding if a young athlete needs to come off the field of practice or play,” said Dr. Gioia. “It also makes it possible to alert physicians with essential injury information, who soon will have an office-based application for tracking injured patients. We plan an entire suite of related concussion assessment and treatment applications, including those for students and school officials, for a comprehensive approach to concussion care.”

Dr. Gioia, Chief of Neuropsychology at Children’s National, is a leader in youth concussion research and treatment who advocates for best practices in concussion recognition, response, and management. He joins colleagues in medical and sports associations who insist that athletes be removed from the field of practice or play if a concussion is suspected. Dr. Gioia’s research focuses on younger athletes. His work has demonstrated the important role that cognitive rest and management plays in student-athletes during concussion recovery. That translates to active management of reading, texting, television, and computer games for the first days and weeks post injury.

Dr. Gioia is also a leading voice in advocating for a full assessment by a qualified healthcare professional before an injured athlete is returned to the field of play or practice and before he or she returns to a full academic schedule. To that end, he collaborates with a national coalition of sports, healthcare, and academic organizations advancing a state-by-state legislative agenda to require that coaches, young athletes and their parents/guardians be educated in proper concussion recognition and response, and that they will be evaluated and cleared by a qualified healthcare professional before returning to the field and to school.

This agenda is especially important to young athletes, whose brains are still growing and developing and who therefore are more susceptible to lasting damage if they incur repeated injuries. 

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For interviews, contact Paula Darte or Emily Dammeyer, Children's National public relations: 202-476-4500.

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