Athletic trainers using technology on sidelines to help diagnose head injuries

By: Hope Jensen Email
By: Hope Jensen Email

News 12 This Morning / Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. -- Head injuries can happen anytime, anywhere. In sports, athletes are at risk for concussions every time they step onto the field.

The Georgia Health Sciences University Sports Medicine program provides athletic trainers to high schools in Aiken County.

They are the first in the area to use technology to help diagnose head injuries on the field. It's an app that you can get on your iPad, iPhone and iPod called SCAT 2, the sport concussion assessment tool. Thanks to the app, trainers can have all the information they need available on the field with them.

Caleb Glenn is a senior at Midland Valley High School. He plays baseball and football and earlier this year got a concussion.

"I went up to hit, I was squaring around for a bunt, and he threw a ball at my head and I turned around, bent my head and the ball caught me right there," he explained.

Instead of going to the hospital, Glenn was taken into the dugout.

"After I went into the dugout, she pulled out her iPhone and started doing some tests," he said.

They were quickly able to diagnose him with a concussion using the app. It allows them to run cognitive tests, balance tests, recall tests and more on the sidelines.

"Instead of waiting three or four hours after the concussion to go to the hospital and get tested, they were right there," Glenn said. "They can tell you how bad it is, whether you need to go to the hospital, how long you're gonna be out. Stuff like that."

"It's pretty much an all encompassing tool that gives you a quick sideline assessment about the severity of the injury," added Midland Valley Athletic Trainer Ashle Cooper.

She keeps the app with her at all times on her iPhone, iPad or iPod.

"You just run them through the whole test, and it calculates all the scores," she explained. "It's immediate."

That immediacy is crucial to figuring out how to treat the athlete.

"Having that is very, very valuable because kids with concussions are gonna react differently at different times," Glenn said. "If you're missing that first component, it's more difficult to put the whole puzzle together."

For Glenn, it was his second concussion and something he says can happen to anyone anytime you step onto the field.

"There's a possibility you could get one every time you're on the field," he said. "You never know what someone else is gonna do. You can't control it. You just gotta do what you gotta do to be safe."

So far this year, Midland Valley has seen four concussions on the field.

Georgia Health Sciences University is working to develop a Sport Concussion Center where athletes can go after they have been injured. There will be sports medicine staff and neurologists working to better address concussions and their effects.

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