Can an app diagnose concussions on the sidelines?

Are you concerned about your child getting a concussion from playing sports? There are apps for that

SARASOTA, Fla. - Only one percent of the state's 270,000 high school athletes suffered concussions last year, but Sarasota County doctors are noticing a growing trend.

“We are seeing more concussions,” said Dr. Dan Stein, a neurologist and concussion expert. “Girls in basketball and soccer have high concussion rates compared to other female sports.”

Several apps claim to diagnose possible concussions on the sideline, but do they work?

Stein liked the Concussion and Recognition and Response App because "it uses valid measures for concussions assessments guideline set up by the CDC, one of the creators is Dr. Goya…read his work it’s reliable," he said. "I would give this a thumbs up.”

Stein also liked the SCAT 2 app, created based on guidelines developed by concussion experts.

“These are good sideline tools assessing suspected concussions…Thumbs up,” he said.


 

But Stein said the Play it Safe app plays it too safe.

“I’m going to give it a semi-thumbs up,” he said.

 Pros include various tests, including a balance test with a timer, but the memory and eye test fall short, he said. 

Asking the athlete to remember three words is "not as helpful as asking the athlete who are we playing and what quarter are we in," Stein said, adding that the app doesn't have an eye movement assessment.

Stein did not like The Concussion App, which calls for help based on your phone’s GPS location.

“It’s a good feature but most people have the ability to call 911," he said.

Stein also gave a thumbs down to The Pupil Screen app, which uses a phone’s flashlight to study pupil reflex,  similar to a doctor’s exam.

“Clever idea to record pupillary light reflex with the phone’s light but the usefulness of diagnosing concussions on the sideline seems unlikely,” he said.

Bottom line — these apps should not substitute a doctor's diagnosis.

“The phrase we use, 'when in doubt sit them out,'" he said. "If you think there’s a concussion, no matter what the app says, take the player off the field.”

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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