The NFL has grown into a moneymaking colossus with forward-thinking ideas, and now it is embracing technology to aid its effort to curb the concerning amount of concussions that occur during its games.
NFL.com announced the league will use an iPad application to help team doctors diagnose head injuries on the sidelines. The report states:
Players take a baseline concussion test before the season, and that test is uploaded into a sideline protocol program on an iPad.
The test uses a 1-6 score system to rate how a player currently feels. It also includes short- and long-term memory tests (word recall, “what day is it?”, count backwards, etc.). There’s also a part of the test in which the player must perform certain physical tasks, like standing on one leg.
A panel of doctors took part in the NFL’s sideline concussion protocol news conference on Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
One of the doctors on the panel, Stanley Herring, emphasized how critical it is to have knowledge of a player in diagnosing a concussion, saying, "If you know the player, you can recognize changes in behavior, including attempts to hide injury or an increased effort to pass the test."
The app will serve as a tool for the professionals treating concussions, but it will still take “observations and instincts” to properly treat injured players.
There is a thriving market for iPad apps designed for medical professionals. Developers have created enough programs to give MobiHealthNews.com’s Brian Dolan the necessary material to compose a list ranking the top 80 apps for doctors and nurses.
The iPad will allow doctors to easily store and instantly access data that will help them better diagnose a player’s condition, even when the injured player is not entirely forthcoming about his symptoms.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith was added to the list of players who lost his starting job after sitting out due to a concussion. Incidents such as this are a part of life in professional football, but they also provide motivation for players to keep concerns about head injuries hidden.
Team doctors need all the help they can get as the NFL tries to change the culture regarding how players deal with concussions. The league deserves credit for thinking outside the box and using technology to improve player safety.