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Some smartphone and tablet apps contain accurate information to help parents, coaches and athletic trainers tell when an athlete has a concussion, according to a new review of the tools.
But concussion assessment apps vary widely, researchers found, so it’s important for users to be able to pick the best one for their purposes.
“Although not essential to the recognition and management of a concussion, mobile apps provide a new dimension in concussion management for medically trained professionals,” coauthors Hopin Lee of Neuroscience Research Australia in Sydney and Osman Ahmed of The FA Centre for Disability Football Research in Staffordshire, UK, told media.
“However for the public, it is important that these apps are not seen as a ‘do-it-yourself’ solution and that the information is used to guide a player with a suspected concussion to seek urgent medical attention,” they wrote.
They collaborated on the review at the University of Otago in New Zealand.
There are approximately 40,000 medical and healthcare apps available for smartphones or tablets, the authors write. For this review, they downloaded 18 English-language apps intended to help users recognize and assess concussions. Ten were available for Android and 16 for iOS, and 13 were free to download.
The researchers compared the information in each app to an international concussion diagnosis standard called the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 2.
They ranked each app designed to be used by people other than medical professionals in three areas that are important markers of concussion: symptoms, memory function and balance. In each area, a score of zero meant there was no information and a score of 2 meant the necessary information was totally complete.