Sports-related traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), including mTBIs-commonly referred to as concussions-are a serious public health concern. Although most sports-related concussions are mild injuries TBIs contribute to a substantial number of deaths and cases of permanent disability. While contact sports such as football have the highest incidence and rates of concussion, these injuries occur across a wide range of sports. Diagnostic criteria and consensus return to play (RTP) guidelines exist, but clinicians have varying approaches to the diagnosis and management of sports-related concussion as these guidelines are almost completely unsupported by an evidence base. It is well known that by increasing awareness of concussion signs and symptoms as well as the importance of addressing this injury, improving coaching on proper sports activity techniques and good sportsmanship, providing appropriate protective equipment, and quickly responding to injuries, the incidence, severity, and long-term negative health effects of sports-related concussion among children and adolescents can be reduced. Thus there is a critical need for the development of tools for prevention. Our long-term goal is to reduce the negative consequences of sports-related concussion, specifically in youth sports. The overall objective of this application, which is the first step toward attainment of our long-term goal, is to evaluate the effectiveness of Spot Light (a concussion injury management application [app] that coordinates diagnosis, management, and RTP procedures from injury to safe return to sport) when utilized by youth football teams. Our central hypothesis is that youth football teams randomized to receive Spot Light will report increased rates of concussion, increased referrals to physicians for care, and increased athlete compliance with RTP guidelines. The rationale that underlies the proposed research is that providing an easy- to-use app has a high probability of effectively helping people involved with youth sports better recognize, respond to, and ensure athletes are fully recovered from sports-related concussion. We will test our hypothesis by pursuing the following aims: 1: Evaluate whether Spot Light will increase reported rates of sports-related concussion;
Aim 2 : Evaluate whether Spot Light increases referrals to physicians following concussion;
Aim 3 : Evaluate whether Spot Light improves the management of sports-related concussion. We expect to determine whether there is increased reporting, referrals to physicians and athlete compliance with RTP guidelines. This contribution will be significant because it will allow physicians, athletic trainers (ATs), coaches, and parents to collaboratively track concussions from injury through safe RTP thereby lessoning the chances of long-term negative outcomes as well as acute catastrophic outcomes. This research is innovative because it will have both immediate and long-term impacts on the scientific knowledge in the areas of sports injury prevention and the use of mobile app technology as a tool for injury recognition, management/treatment, and prevention.

Public Health Relevance

Sports-related TBI is a major public health concern. Diagnostic tools and consensus treatment guidelines exist for return to play and other activities, but they are almost completely unsupported by an evidence base. In addition, risk factors for poor outcomes are unknown.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-BDCN-N (58))
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Michel, Mary E
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Nationwide Children's Hospital
United States
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