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Non-Profit Uses mHealth to Improve Concussion Education, Treatment

A global non-profit spun out of Stanford has unveiled an mHealth platform that uses digital health tools, including VR, to educate providers, patients and others on how to identify and treat concussions.

Source: ThinkStock

By Eric Wicklund

- A global non-profit is using an mHealth wearable to teach healthcare providers and others how to identify and treat concussions.

TeachAids, a Stanford University spinoff that has developed internationally recognized HIV and AIDS education packages, has unveiled CrashCourse, a free digital health platform incorporating HD and Virtual Reality (VR) to “put the learner on the field to experience a concussion.”

Some 2.5 million Americans suffer concussions each year, and many are successfully treated within 10 days. But a growing body of research indicates the lasting effects of a concussion can be harmful, even fatal, increasing the need for better education and treatment protocols.

“In the next 10 years, the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) estimates that over 20 million children playing school sports will sustain a concussion. No equipment, including helmets, can prevent concussions, and the overwhelming majority of students, parents, and coaches are unaware of the latest science around the management and treatment of concussions,” Dr. Piya Sorcar, the group’s founder and CEO, said in a press release. “We’ve brought together leading experts from medicine and other fields, along with young athletes, to develop an interactive program to improve safety and enhance the experience of youth playing sports.”

TeachAids collaborated with Stanford researchers, as well as sports coaches and students, on the program, which features several college and NFL football athletes. The connected care platform includes an interactive film, a “brain fly-through” using Stanford Medicine technology, a concussion symptoms simulator and clinical information about the signs and symptoms of concussions.

CrashCourse lies at the intersection of two fast-growing mobile health trends.

The use of VR technology dovetails with efforts by several health systems around the world – most notably Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles – to develop and expand healthcare uses for AR (Augmented Reality) and VR. Pairing the technology with a specialized headset, healthcare providers have been using the platform to treat patients dealing with pain, chronic issues, even addictions.

Sports programs and schools, meanwhile, are turning to telehealth and mHealth – including AR and VR headsets, mHealth apps and even robots equipped with virtual visit technology – to identify concussions as soon as possible and connect on-scene care providers with specialists.

TeachAids officials say their platform can not only help providers identify and treat concussions, but include patients and their families in care coordination and management.

“It's not just in football, but across all sports, Dr. Gerald Grant, a Professor of Neurosurgery at the Stanford University School of Medicine, said in the press release. “When these kids and parents come to our clinics they are starving for information. The power of CrashCourse is that it speaks to students in their own language. We hope it makes a huge impact around the world.”

“By utilizing proper concussion protocols and supporting athletes and teammates, the risk of secondary injuries from concussions can be reduced by three to five times,” added Dr. Daniel Daneshvar, a neuroscientist and CTE researcher at Stanford. “Parents and players understanding these issues is the first step toward the creation of safer sporting environments.”

The company plans to highlight the mHealth tool during this weekend’s college football game between Stanford and the University of Southern California. Initially available in HD, the VR version and other modules are expected to be available by January 2019.

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