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Concussion Apps For Smartphones

Most are designed for use by medical professionals, not parents

4. Pocket SCAT2 (free)

A smartphone version which purports to replicate the SCAT2 test, but which doesn't even come close to doing anything of the sort. A total waste and completely useless, either as a diagnostic tool for suspected concussion or as providing basic concussion information. In any event, the SCAT2 (now updated to the SCAT3)​ is designed for use by clinicians, not parents or coaches.

Not recommended.

5. SCAT2 (free)

A smartphone version of the SCAT2 test intended for use only by qualified medical professionals, thus of no use for parents and coaches. With the March 2013 release of the SCAT3, expect this app to be updated soon.

Not recommended.

6. ImPACT Concussion Awareness Tool (ImCAT)(free).

As the application's name suggests, this app, from the folks who make the Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Test (ImPACT), the most widely used computerized neurocognitive test for concussion management, provides information about concussions, but, unlike the others apps, is not a concussion testing tool.

The app includes:

  • a helpful 10-question concussion quiz to test the user's knowledge of concussions (and debunk common concussion myths; for an article discussing concussion myths in detail, click here)
  • A concussion overview, including a list of common signs and symptoms of concussion, information about post-concussion syndrome, what a concussion assessment involves, a discussion of current concussion management guidelines (correctly pointing out that there is no evidence to support the "grading" of concussions,, an approach that has now, as Dr. Joseph Congeni of Akron Children's Hospital points out in The Smartest Team, has been completely abandoned), a brief summary of the step-wise process experts recommend prior to return to play, concussion treatment (rest, no sports, no return while symptomatic), and concussion recovery.
  • Information about Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI)
  • Advice on preventing mTBI (not just in sports but in everyday life).

While all the information on this app can be found in the MomsTEAM concussion center and elsewhere on the Internet, it might not be a bad idea for parents and coaches, especially of teams without trained healthcare professionals, such as certified athletic trainers, on the sidelines to download so it is available for quick reference, just in case Internet access isn't possible.


7. Return2Play (University of Michigan Neurosport)(free)

Developed by the Pediatric Trauma Program at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in partnership with Michigan Neurosport, this app is Intended tor use primarily as a management utility for concussion patients to track their recovery from concussion and doctor's appointments. The app also contains some brief - too brief, in the view of MomsTEAM editors, sections on:

  • some common concussion myths and facts;
  • an abbreviated signs and symptom checklist;
  • a list of signs which may indicate a more serious brain injury ;
  • a short list of things to do during concussion recovery;
  • a return to play protocol developed by Michigan Neurosport using the acronym BRAIN, which stands for : Bike, Run, Agility, In Red, No Restrictions;
  • a list of factors that may increase an athlete's risk of concussion
  • a list of three ways (technology, education, and enforcement) to reduce concussion risk.

Good information, but incomplete. Perhaps valuable for athletes who want to track their concussion recovery, but for parents, the CRR (#1 above) contains more complete information.

Not recommended.

8. Hockey Canada Concussion Awareness (free)

Developed as part of a larger initiative between Hockey Canada and three other not-for-profit organizations) and as part of the Canadian government's Active and Safe Injury Prevention Initiative, this app, while designed for hockey players, has some valuable information on concussions, even for parents who don't have kids playing hockey, including:

  • simple animations of the different ways concussions can occur (direct impact to head, impact to head from body blow, direct impact due to fall, and indirect impact);
  • short articles dispelling the myths that helmets and mouth guards prevent concussions;
  • signs and symptoms of concussion (emphasizing the important point about the need for parents to watch for delayed onset)
  • instructions for follow-up care during the first 24-48 hours after injury, and the need for physical and cognitive rest.
  • the pocket Concussion Recognition Tool issued as part of the 4th International Consensus Statement on Concussions in Sport (too small to be readable, however, on a smartphone; probably legible on an iPad or other tablet)
  • a discussion of the 6-step return to play protocol. 
  • an explanation of baseline and post-concussion neurocognitive testing, including the important message that baseline tests should be administered and the results interpreted by a trained health care professional and explaining the advantages and disadvantages of such testing and how often a baseline test should be performed.
  • 19 concussion videos on You Tube (some in French) 

Good basic information, especially for hockey parents, but not of much value to parents with kids playing football.

Recommended for hockey parents; not recommended for football parents.

9. Hockey Canada Concussion Awareness for Kids (free)

The first concussion app designed specifically for kids, the app uses a character named "Puckster" to get information about concussions across to younger kids. It includes a simple video game kids can play in which Puckster skates over - or into - various obstacles on the ice with concussion tips on the board in the background, and easy-to-understand versions of the concussion recognition, treatment and return to play information in the regular app.

Recommended for young hockey players; not recommended for football players.  

10. USA Football Heads Up Football (free)

Speaking of football, as the name suggests, this app explains all of the elements of USA Football's Heads Up Football program, which the organization touts as a comprehensive approach to player safety for leagues, parents, and coaches run in partnership with the NFL.

11. American Academy of Neurology's Concussion Quick Check (free)

Issued in conjunction with the AAN's updated concussion guidelines, [2] this is a useful and concise app true to its name, and is designed help  parents, coaches, and other non-medical personnel determine if an athlete has a concussion and needs to see a licensed health care provider.  

Like many of the other apps, the Concussion Quick Check includes:

  • lists of common signs and symptoms of concussion
  • a checklist of things to do if an athlete is knocked unconscious during a game (e.g. check his ABC's: airway, breathing, and circulation);
  • a list of things to do if a concussion is suspected: remove from play and not allow return that day, monitor for next three or four hours or longer (although the app doesn't say for what or why this important); notify a licensed health care provider (LHCP) trained in diagnosing and managing concussion, and not allow the athlete to return to play until evaluated and cleared by such a provider; and
  • a brief discussion of things a healthcare provider may say to an athlete about return to play, including returning to physical activity slowly and increase activity levels carefully, step by step. (Consistent with the AAN's guidelines, which only go so far as to say that a LHCP "might develop individualized graded plans for return to physical and cognitive activity," the app does not endorse the graduated return to play protocol recommended in the last three international consensus statements on concussion in sport, [3,4,5] saying only that the LHCP "may"  tell an athlete to increase activity levels carefully.)
The Concussion Quick Check also includes a feature allowing the user to locate a neurologist,* and a list of concussion laws by state (current as of December 2012, which means it doesn't list the laws in Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, and Montana enacted in 2013).
This is a good, quick concussion checklist covering the basics for non-medical personnel.
Designed by the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, an internationally recognized leader in neurological research and patient care, and funded with a grant from Fiesta Bowl Charities, Barrow Brainball is a fun, interactive, customizable, arcade-style football runner game which provides valuable concussion education to young athletes (ages 8 to 12) by growing and testing their knowledge about concussion symptoms and injury prevention through training quizzes, and learning how to safely avoid collisions with other players through game play training modes. 
The game features helmet-shaped icons that players move around to score points by avoiding collisions with other players. Play also involves going to a simulated classroom to learn about symptoms and signs of concussion in order to advance, and is available for free download in the iTunes store, and on Google play. It can also be played online.  
Barrow Ball is a great way to start concussion education when kids are young, hopefully getting them comfortable at an early age with some key concussion prevention and recognition concepts (such as that safety always comes ahead of winning, that concussions happen in practices, not just games, that practicing good sportsmanship minimizes concussion risk; and that if a child notices a teammate exhibiting concussion symptoms, they need to tell a parent or coach) in a fun and interactive way.    
Highly recommended.
*Note: While the average person might think that all neurologists can assess and manage sport-related concussion, neurologists specialize in the diseases and illnesses that affect the nerves of the body and brain. Concussive brain injury is "not typically part of neurology training." [6]

Brooke de Lench is the Founder and Publisher of MomsTEAM.com and the author of Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers in Youth Sports and Producer and Director of MomsTEAM's new high school football documentary, "The Smartest Team."

1. Kutcher J, McCrory P, Davis G, et al. What evidence exists for new strategies or technologies in the diagnosis of sports concussion and assessment of recovery? Br J Sports Med 2013;47:299-303. (accessed March 21, 2013)

2. Giza C, Kutcher J, Ashwal S, et al.  Summary of evidence-based guideline update: Evaluation and management of concussion in sports: Report of the Guideline Development Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology.  Neurology 2013; published online before print March 18, 2013; DOI:10.1212/WNL.0b013e31828d57dd. 

3. McCrory P, et al. Summary and agreement statement of the 2nd International Conference on Concussion in Sport, Prague 2004.  Br J Sports Med 2005;39:196-204.

4. McCory P, et al. Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport: the 3rd International Conference on Concussion in Sport held in Zurich, November 2008. Br J Sports Med 2009: 43:i76-i84

5. McCrory P, et al. Consensus Statement on concussion in Sport: the 4th International Conference on Concussion in Sport held in Zurich, November 2012. Br J Sports Med 2013:47:250-258.

6. Meehan WP, III. Kids, Sports, and Concussions (Praeger 2011), p. 4. 

Posted August 12, 2012; revised and updated November 12, 2013