Football players at Crenshaw High School are testing a new app that may help trainers and coaches better gauge possible concussions.
Crenshaw is one of a dozen SoCal schools that will try out an iPad application that measures a player’s motor skills, reaction time, visual memory and balance before the season begins.
The information is stored and coaches and medical staff can access those earlier tests to evaluate a player’s impairment and possible concussion during a game. Advocates say the program could help save lives by preventing injured players from returning to the field.
Testing of the new technology comes as concerns continue to grow over football players and concussions, which many current and retired professional players argue has led to long-term brain damage.
“It’s crazy how iPads can determine whether you have a concussion or not now,” says Travis Meighan, a Crenshaw player who took the baseline test Wednesday. Typically, the decision to return a player to the game lies in the hands of trainers and coaches, depending on the level of play.
Data shows high school players are especially vulnerable to hits to the head, and more athletic programs are now instructing players on how to properly tackle to avoid head injuries. In California, a new law will take effect in January that limits the time players can participate in full-contact practice.
It will be the 20th state to have such a law, designed to limit the time players can get hurt.
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“We do good tackling drills so we know to keep our head up and our head away from (an opponent’s) head,” says player Kam Henry.
Dr. Vernon Williams of Team HEAL, a nonprofit which helps underserved schools, says they will track more than a dozen high schools and colleges throughout the football season with the new app. He says the tests will help officials make more informed decisions.
“We know the highest risk of a repeat concussion is in the first 10 days after one has occured,” he says.
And players say they want to know what’s happening as well.
“You go back out there and play and get worse and seriously injured,” player Garreth Norwood says.
Other schools participating in the program include Westchester High School, Carson High School and Banning High School.