As Parentology reported earlier this month, concussions are a serious concern for all athletes. The prevalence of concussions in youth sports is especially concerning for parents. “1.1 million to 1.9 million recreational concussions and sports-related concussions occur annually in the United States in children 18 years of age or younger,” according to a 2018 American Academy of Pediatrics report.
Because of the growing concern, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws to address traumatic brain injury. The majority of states have enacted legislation targeting youth sports-related concussions. While this legislation is certainly a step in the right direction, the issue of compliance still leaves many kids unprotected.
That’s where Head Check wants to help. The Canadian-based company was founded by Harrison Brown, a former professional rugby player who pursued both a Masters and Ph.D. in neurophysiology, specifically focused on concussion research. Head Check has developed protocols for coaches, medical staff, players and parents, that are input and shared through the Head Check concussion app.
Brown tells Parentology when looking at studies combined with his own athletic experience, he realized there was a serious health concern not being addressed. “Even at the highest level of sport we really aren’t doing this right.”
Initially, Brown researched and worked to develop better and more comprehensive tests so that organizations could utilize them to help in the diagnosis and treatment of concussions. The tests were designed with different versions, so anyone from a volunteer coach to a trained medical professional could implement the protocol.
What Head Check soon realized after collecting data was that while the program was sound, the user compliance was not. Brown notes, “what was happening was they were telling the family and athletes that they were doing ‘A,B,C and D’ and in reality they weren’t.”
Head Check then decided while the tests were important, perhaps compliance was more important. The athletic organizations that developed the concussion protocols had a vested interest in ensuring they were being implemented on the playing field.
Currently, the goal is to bring Head Check to youth, minor and professional sports organizations, “now what we’re doing is essentially giving them a lens and visibility to see are all of their teams following the policy.”
Each team sets their own policy. Information is input and shared through the Head Check concussion app. This allows everyone to monitor a player’s symptoms and track recovery. In a scenario where a concussion isn’t immediately diagnosed but a player experiences symptoms later, Head Check allows for notification. “They can go on to the app and self-report if they think they have a concussion, or report the symptoms they’re having. When the information is saved, a notification goes back to the team.”
Head Check is being widely used in many athletic levels throughout Canada, most recently by the Canadian Football League (CFL).
While Brown is pleased professional organizations are monitoring their athletes, his hope is to be the “de facto organization for the testing and administration of protocols.” The idea is that the medical history stored in Head Check will follow an athlete throughout their career “when they get to the professional league they have years of data behind them, so they’re not being asked by medical professionals how many concussion they think they’ve had — the data will follow the athlete.”