March 19, 2016
3 min read

Youth concussion education, screening technology and data collection to roll out

District of Columbia Parks and Recreation Department will use the technology first.

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Representatives from the Children’s National Health System and MedStar Sports Medicine recently announced new technology used to deliver and monitor coach, parent and athlete concussion education, as well as for screening and data collection to be used in the District of Columbia to aid in the treatment and prevention of concussion in youth sports.

Gerard A. Gioia, PhD, division chief of neuropsychology and director of the Safe Concussion Outcome, Recovery and Education Program at Children’s National Health System, and Michael R. Yochelson, MD, of MedStar Sports Medicine, announced a new partnership with InjureFree. The company’s concussion education delivery, data collection and injury monitoring technology will be rolled out through the District’s youth sports organizations and school districts within the year.

“We want to maximize recognition of a suspected brain injury, then act on it and remove that child from risk, and allow for appropriate recovery where they will not go back into harm’s way when the brain is still at risk,” Gioia said at a press conference.

H. Hunter Batjer

School districts first

This is the continuation of a grant provided by the District of Columbia Department of Health to provide youth sports concussion education and collect data from school districts, organized youth leagues, parents, athletic trainers and coaches.

Yochelson said the Children’s National Health System and MedStar hosted 29 events in the past year due to the grant. These events included concussion education courses, training courses, clinical refresher courses and training the trainer courses for youth sport representatives and school district representatives throughout Washington, D.C.

Gerard Gioia, PhD, (left) division chief of neuropsychology at Children’s National Health System, in Washington, DC., discussed smart phone-based applications used for concussion surveillance, like the InjureFree program. Mike Smith (right), is with the National Press Club Newsmaker Committee and has his own company, MSBD, Inc., in Reston, Va.

Image: Cheryl Vosburg

InjureFree will bring its technology for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act-compliant mobile and real-time injury documentation and reporting for youth sport coaches, trainers, parents, school nurses and school district representatives.

Real-time data

Charlie Wund, president of the Agency for Student Health Research and founder of the InjureFree platform, said the web-based application will be available for a smartphone or tablet to be used onsite by any individual who is authorized to use the technology. Coaches and staff will have their entire roster available on the app, and it will show which athletes have been cleared to return to play after an injury and which athletes may still be going through a concussion protocol.

Using the app, athletic trainers will be able to enter injury reports for high school students. School administrators also will have access to complete injury reports and maintain oversight for the entire student body, said Wund, who is chief executive officer of InjureFree.

All data for injuries, including concussions, will be gathered and made available for schools, organizations and other agencies using the InjureFree technology, he said.

National database needed

Wund said the InjureFree technology will first be made available to the Washington, D.C. Parks and Recreation Department, with plans for the technology to be in every school within Washington, D.C., before the start of the 2016 to 2017 football season.

Gioia said a national database and registry for youth sports concussion is ultimately needed to be able to register athletes into a system, identify their injuries and be able to provide the likelihood of injury for a particular sport.

Exciting new technology

“We do not have that national database, that type of national registry, to make those decisions. Fundamentally, that is what we need to do,” he said.

H. Hunt Batjer, MD, FAANS FACS, president of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, told Spine Surgery Today the new mobile technology to facilitate the reporting and tracking of concussive injuries in young athletes is an exciting step.

“This technology should facilitate real-time documentation of injuries, and, most importantly, will enable school districts, cities and states to comply with youth sports safety laws patterned after the Zackery Lystedt Law in Washington State and now present in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Having such systems in place is critical to maximize player safety and safe return to school and play protocols,” Batjer told Spine Surgery Today. – by Robert Linnehan

Disclosures: Batjer, Gioia and Yochelson report no relevant financial disclosures. Wund is chief executive officer of the Agency for Student Health Research with financial gains related to distribution of InjureFree.