RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Concussions, or mild traumatic brain injuries, are a serious problem. Each year in the United States, thousands of young people are treated for recreation-related concussions.
Concussions also are an issue for military service members and veterans.
Micaela Cornis-Pop of McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center led a team that developed a Concussion Coach app for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The app is available for iPads and iPods, and it will be available for the Android platform later this year.
Cornis-Pop answered questions about the app:
What is the app designed to do?
This is a VA-developed mobile app that supports self-management of symptoms related to concussion. It was developed by rehabilitation services and the National Center for PTSD at the VA.
There is a general push in health care to empower the public to manage some of their health problems and then share the experience with a health care provider so that they are more partners in their care.
What are the app's main features?
It has five main goals.
—One is to provide education about concussion.
—There is an assessment part. It is a 22-question inventory about problems most associated with concussion, such as feeling dizzy, balance problems, headaches, cognition.
—The "manage this moment" section is a number of tools that can help at the moment when problems occur . trouble falling asleep, for instance.
—There is a section called "building resilience." Not only do you need to manage the symptoms, but you should create an environment that should help you generally diminish the symptoms.
—The last of the five is resources and support. This gives links to resources in the VA, how to find professional care and main websites with information about concussion.
What sort of consumer or patient testing was done?
We did two levels of testing. We first asked the veterans about what they would want to have in an app of this kind. Then we did several other levels of testing to see how easy it can be used. It will continue to be part of several research grants that will look into the outcomes or the efficacy of using the app in managing problems related to concussion.
Is this just for veterans?
No, we want this to be broadly available to service members and the public. We think the public can benefit from many of the features.
A lot of focus is on children and concussions. Can parents use it, in terms of the self-assessment and other features, with their children?
It can be used by anybody with the understanding that this does not diagnose or manage traumatic brain injury. It is a helpful tool to have in discussing with a specialized provider.
Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, http://www.timesdispatch.com