Football Friday

UNC-made app helps diagnose concussions

Posted September 23, 2011
Updated September 24, 2011

A team of researchers at the University of North Carolina is working on ways to prevent and diagnose head injuries in student athletes, including an app that enables trainers to more quickly identify when a player has a concussion.

UNC researchers develop concussion diagnosis app UNC researchers develop concussion diagnosis app

Kevin Guskiewicz, chairman of UNC's Department of Exercise and Sports Medicine, outlined the problem. "It's an injury that we can't see with the naked eye. Unlike an ankle sprain or a shoulder dislocation, you can't see a concussion. It's been described as a hidden epidemic," he said.

With increased knowledge about the types of hits that cause concussions and the symptoms associated with them, Guskiewicz said trainers can help prevent concussions better than ever before.

Guskiewicz is one of 22 recently named winners of the MacArthur Foundation "genius grant," which provides $500,000 over five years. He will use the money to further his research on concussions.

His specialty is equipment, like re-enforced helmets and chin straps. His colleagues developed the app that trainers can use on the sidelines. Trainers answer a series of questions and the app determines the likelihood of a concussion. It can even email that information to doctors. 

"Some of the testing and devices we've developed at UNC-Chapel Hill are now being used on sidelines of every high school and college team in the country," he said.

Their next project is an app for emergency responders, who may be less familiar with concussions, to help them make the correct diagnosis.

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