Females and younger athletes experience more concussion symptoms and take longer to recover from these injuries than males or older athletes, Covassin et al reported recently in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

Not surprisingly, football accounted for the highest proportion of concussions, 41.9%, in a separate study by Marar et al that compared concussion rates among teens participating in 20 high school sports. Guess what sport took the number two spot? Girl’s soccer at 8.2%.

To be fair with statistics, a lot of girls play soccer and when rates are calculated football still tops the charts at 6.4 per 10,000 athlete exposures followed by boys’ ice hockey (5.4), which also had the greatest proportion of total injuries (22.2%) caused by a concussion. However, because many girls play soccer, a lot are at risk for concussions.


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The New York Times recently reported a story about about a female athlete, who was kicked in the head during a high school soccer game and received cuts and bruises to her face. Although she received care for her injuries in the emergency room, no one thought about the possibility of a concussion until a few weeks later when she collided with another player during a game and fell to the ground in a seizure. 

Having a very high index of suspicion for concussion is extremely important in protecting children and adolescents from further injury after a possible first concussion. But did you know there’s also an app for that?

Jason Mihalik, PhD, an assistant professor of Exercise and Sports Science at the University of North Carolina (my alma mater), and Gerard Gioia, PhD, of George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., have developed an app for the iPhone, iPad and Android called the Concussion Recognition and Response App.  

As a once proud soccer mom, who has helped with varied emergencies around the soccer fields, from cardiac arrest to sprained ankles, I was interested in checking it out. I downloaded the  coach and parent version for a small fee ($3.99), and was very impressed. 

I plugged in the basic details provided in the concussion case from the New York Times article, and with just that small amount of information, the app affirmed that a concussion was suspected. It further advised that the athlete should be removed from the game immediately and have participation restricted for the rest of the day.

The following appropriate recommendations were also provided:

  • Notify the parent or guardian
  • Seek further medical evaluation
  • Observe the affected individual for 24 hours
  • Record symptoms
  • Post concussion instructions at home and school
  • Seek clearance from a health care professional before allowing the athlete to resume participation in the sport.

Since virtually everyone has a smart phone these days, it’s conceivable that if someone at that particular soccer game had this app on his or her phone a concussion would have at least been suspected at the initial injury. I think that’s pretty cool.

How about you? Are there any apps that you find useful in practice, or regularly recommend to your patients to maintain good health? Help out your colleagues and write a review.

Julee B. Waldrop, DNP, FNP, PNP, is the Director of the MSN-DNP Program and an associate professor at the University of Central Florida. She provides health care to children at a local community health center.

References

  1. “Concussion? There’s an App for that.” The University of North Carolina website. Published: March 5, 2012.  
  2. Covassin, T., Elbin, R.J., Harris, W., et al.  & Parker, T. (2012). “The role of age and sex in symptoms, neurocognitive performance, and postural stability in athletes after concussion.” Am J Sports Med. 2012; DOI: 10.1177/0363546512444554
  3. Marar, M., McIlvan, N.M., Fields, SK.K.  et al & Comstock, R.D. (2012). “Epidemiology of concussions among United States high school athletes in 20 sports.” Am J Sports Med. 2012; .  American Journal of Sports Medicine, 40(4): 747-755.
  4. O’Connor A. “Concussions may be more severe in girls and young athletes.” New York Times. Published: May 10, 2012