NW Iowa high school football team testing iPad app for assessing concussions
August 7th, 2013 by Ric Hanson
A small school in northwest Iowa will be the first in the state to test an iPad application to assess concussions. Doctor Jay Alberts, with the Cleveland Clinic, helped develop the app called “C3.” He’ll be doing baseline testing this (Wednesday) morning on the roughly 100 players on the Boyden-Hull Rock Valley football team. Alberts says the iPad app is designed to diagnose concussions in a quantifiable, objective way. “You know, it doesn’t matter how you score a touchdown, a touchdown is always worth six points. That’s really what we’re trying to get at here. We’re trying to develop metrics and use the electronics within the iPad to remove the subjectivity from the assessment of these athletes,” Alberts says.
Data collected by the C3 app will be used to help officials determine when a player who suffers a concussion is ready to return to school and the football field. One of the features of the app is it tests balance by strapping the iPad to a athlete’s back. “We use the accelerometer and the gyroscope that are built into the iPad,” Alberts explains. “With that data, we can test balance and give them a very objective way to assess balance, rather than using the standard approach, which is ‘well, I think his balance is a little off.’ How do we know it wasn’t off before he was injured?”
In addition to balance, the app measures four other areas. Alberts says rather than relying solely on the subjective grading of a trainer, coaches can use the app to make sure an athlete is fully healed. “I think if we can remove the subjectivity from the assessment and improve the integrity of the assessment, we can keep our athletes safer and get them back, first, in the classroom faster and then on the playing field faster and safer,” Alberts says. Alberts is a native of Sanborn in northwest Iowa. He partnered with the Boyden-Hull Rock Valley football squad because the son of one of his lifelong friends is on the team. Alberts believes the C3 app will “level the playing field” by allowing anyone, anywhere to access state-of-the-art diagnostic tools — even in rural areas like Rock Valley.
“There’s a fundamental challenge in the translation of advances in health care to rural areas and I think this is where the iPad and other systems…come into play and have a real opportunity here,” Alberts says. C3 is already being used by the Cleveland Clinic to monitor more than 6,000 athletes in 56 high schools in northeast Ohio, along with several colleges in Ohio.