by Dr. Eugene Bailey MD
There is a growing awareness in our high schools regarding recognition, assessment, management and recording of concussions. This is because of the past general disregard for monitoring head injuries among high school athletes and recent attention due to numerous lawsuits in the NFL.
Many states have instituted policy and procedures regarding concussions but there is no universal standard that is practiced among all schools. The recognition, assessment, management and recording of concussions are quite variable and dependent upon the individual programs.
Athletic Trainers Help Unify Concussion Management
Those schools that have hired athletic trainers and formalized education for coaches, staff and parents are better prepared for concussions, however, many high schools lack the adequate training and staff to monitor their student athletes. And even those schools that have formalized concussion protocols, there is a great deal of variation in implementation and recording if any of the injuries.
Studies show high schools that have athletic trainers and specified programs to deal with this injury have, in some cases, reduced significantly their concussions overall.
Reporting Issues or Real Results?
Recently high school athletic associations in the D.C. region are learning to track concussions better, but the sample size might be too small to enact new policy based on the data. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)1.
Whether it’s the awareness or the reporting or the actual techniques that are used, it’s virtually impossible to identify,” said Andrew Lincoln, director of the MedStar Sports Medicine Research Center at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore. “That’s why we’re trying to take this holistic approach in education and training.” Even so Fairfax County Public Schools site a 43% decline in football related concussions in one year.
In other counties there has also been some discrepancy in the recorded data on concussions with an increase in reporting in many high schools. It is speculated that reasons include over-diagnosis of concussion and increased awareness and that increasing the accuracy may lead to a reduction in reported concussions.
Computer Based Concussion Assessment
Total Concussion Management LLC(TCMgt), has a goal of making all high schools across New York State standardize their concussion tracking through computer software and secure cloud based database. Their mobile and desktop software application, called “easySCAT”, can be used field side for the initial recognition of concussion as well as on desktops in doctors’ and school nurse offices.
This sharing of data between medical personnel and school faculty is possible because “easySCAT” records assessment data in a permanent, secure HIPPA and FERPA compliant database. HIPPA protects medical records and FERPA protects students records. Together they provide a safe and private means of data storage and protected dissemination.
International Standards for Concussion Assessment
The software application is based on current national standards published through the Zurich consensus statement for the concussed athlete. The importance of standards becomes even more important when explaining the need to remove an athlete from the game. By following international standards, there is no room for personal opinion and no room for argument by the player or their parents.
Mobile and Desktop Applications
“easySCAT” runs on Apple and Android mobile devices (phones and tablets), laptops and desktop computers. The data is stored over the internet securely when a network connection is available. “easySCAT” is easy to use and has online video tutorials to make learning the software quick and easy. It operates whether a network connection is available or not. The captured assessment data is synchronized with online storage when a network connection becomes available. That can be; cellular, WiFi or wired Ethernet connections.
Future Research and Data Analysis
TCMgt analyzes anonymous concussion data and collaborates with other organizations to identify trends that help organizations that are having trouble reducing concussions. For example, a school without an athletic trainer can be shown, objectively, that having a trainer can reduce concussions.
Better Monitoring to Manage Head Trauma
Ultimately, it is TCMgt’s common goal for all high schools to better monitor head injuries among their athletes, to reduce their incidence and to better manage concussions. The safety of high school athletes is crucial for their future success not only in sport but also in academia. It may also protect them from long-term issues and concerns regarding cognitive development and possible ultimate decline.
The Timing in Now
The time to provide a standardized concussion protocol is now and recording of these injuries is crucial to understanding the barriers to implementing a successful concussion program that all schools can benefit and utilize.
Total Concussion Management is dedicated to helping solve this problem and is willing to work with all high schools across New York State.