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Game-Changer? New app helps concussion recognition on the field

A look at the "Easy Scat Sideline" app's emergency notification during a concussion recognition test (Niko Tamurian)

It's perhaps the most pervasive problem in athletics, especially at the youth and high school levels, today.

Concussions and the long-term health of athletes because of it.

Chances are, youth football numbers are dropping in a town near you. Across the board, the awareness of mental health and contact sports is at an all-time high.

Locally, there's a team hoping to stem the tide.

Dr. Eugene Bailey of SUNY Upstate along with Mark Powell the Head Athletic Trainer for the Syracuse Crunch and ESM High School put a team together to develop a way to fight the biggest problem, in their eyes.

Recognition.

To help better recognize a concussion right away, the team developed the "Easy Scat Sideline" app, with a litany of tests to make a definitive recognition of a possible concussion.

Right off the bat, a certain answer to the first three questions offers an immediate request for the athlete to go to the Emergency Room.

Even deeper lines of questioning results in a recommendation that the athlete be removed from the game.

The questions are all based on CDC recommendations.

It has the makings of a game-changer.

Here's how it works:


So often, an athlete is hit in the upper-body, asked if they're okay, and if they can respond they're sent back in.

"We kind of think of this as an iceberg, and you come up and see what's above the ocean, with current concussion recognition really there's only a small amount of kids being recognized. What we're missing is below the water. With this app, we're trying to drop the water line down so we're seeing more and seeing more recognition" Dr. Bailey says.

It's a point even someone outside the medical field can understand. Better recognition will hold out more athletes, thus avoiding repeat injuries at the athletes most vulnerable moment, right after the initial impact.

"It's more than, "oh I got bumped in the head" and, alright do you feel Ok? "yes" OK, go back in the game" says Powell

"Now we know the damage that can be done by a concussion and now that we have that knowledge we need to take action to remove kids when they need to be removed to keep them safe."

That's where the app comes in, to determine the appropriate action and quickly in the heat of a game.

"It's great when you have an athletic trainer at the game but there's so many games and venues a lot of times it falls on the coaches" Dr. Bailey says.

"We want them to be better able to have a standard and a practice that they're not going to miss a concussion if there's a head injury."

Right now, the app is being used by around 30 schools, the expectation is that closer to 70 will have it in use by the 2018-2019 school year.

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