Arguably and anecdotally speaking, a large portion of today’s student-athletes and parents of student-athletes fall under the Millennial generation, being born between 1982 and 2000 (Roberts, Newman, & Schwartzstein, 2012), and other researchers have taken the time to establish that Millennials are a technologically driven population when it comes to education and learning (Desy, Darcy, & Wolanskyj, 2017).
With the recent research focus, hype, discussions, and debates being built around sports related concussion, or SRC as the 5th International Conference on Concussion in Sports Consensus Statement held in Berlin (2017) coined as an abbreviation, thanks to Will Smith’s movie Concussion and the PBS Front Line Special League of Denial it seems that many parents and student-athletes would seek to find education on what a concussion in fact is and the potential long-term effects associated to such an injury.
As mentioned above we know that Millennials are technologically driven and as Desy et al mentioned in their 2017 research article, technology even plays a necessity in this generation’s education. So, it seems a fair and logical conclusion that a Millennial with a question on education would reach for the quickest and closest media to answer their questions. The concern is if the Millennial posing the question is receiving their information from a legitimate resource or are they receiving miss information and is that driving dangerous actions?
This clinical question lead me to think about what available and timely resources Millennials had to answer their questions. That thought process guided me to Personal Assistant Applications and Artificial Intelligence pieces that were commonly available, so here is a list of the available resources I queried as to define what a concussion is:
- Apple’s Siri Virtual Assistant/AI
- Amazon’s Alexa/Echo/Tap Virtual Assistant/AI
- Android’s “Ok, Google” Virtual Assistant/AI
The results from each were vaguely shocking…
Leading off at bat for the Virtual Assistant and AI programs was Apple’s Siri, when asked to define a concussion Siri responded with:
“Temporary unconsciousness caused by a blow to the head. The term is also used loosely of the aftereffects such as confusion or temporary incapacity.”
I was extremely unimpressed with this definition that Siri provided. Suffice it to say that Siri grounded out at first base. To breakdown the concerns with the misinformation in the definition of a concussion, let’s look at the 5th International Consensus Statement: “The majority of SRCs occur without loss of consciousness or frank neurological signs”; however, Siri’s definition stated that a concussion was a temporary unconsciousness. Referring one more time to the Consensus Statement: “SRC may be caused either by a direct blow to the head, face, neck or elsewhere on the body with an impulsive force transmitted to the head.” Once again, Siri’s definition stated that concussion were only caused by a blow to the head. Siri’s definition was riddled with misinformation and this leads to a concern for those using that as a quick resource to know if a concussion has occurred. This Siri does not get the approval of this Sports Medicine professional!
On deck was Amazon’s Alexa Virtual Assistant/AI program, when asked to define a concussion Alexa responded with:
“Concussion has two different meanings. Noun. Injury to the brain caused by a blow usually resulting with loss of consciousness. Two, any violent blow.”
Once again, the virtual assistant/AI program failed to accurately define a concussion. In this case, Alexa hit a pop fly that got her to round first base before being caught for an out. She started off strong with her definition in that according to the 5th International Consensus Statement a concussion is in fact a brain injury, she avoided the common pitfall of referring to the injury as a “Ding” or “Bell Ringer”, which we know we should avoid because it down plays the severity of the brain injury (Broglio et al, 2014). The issue in Alexa’s definition of concussion was once again the statement of usually resulting in a loss of consciousness, which as previously mentioned according to the 5th International Consensus Statement is not a common occurrence in concussion. Thus, Alexa too does not receive approval from this Sports Medicine professional as a valid source or tool for concussion education.
With our team of Virtual Assistants/Artificial Intelligence applications and programs currently sitting with two outs and no one on base, I queried Android’s “Ok, Google” Virtual Assistant/AI to see if we could at least get a base hit in concussion education sources/tools. When asked to define concussion, “Ok, Google” responded with:
“According to Mayo Clinic staff. Print. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that affects your brain function. Effects are usually temporary but can include headaches and problems with concentration, memory, balance, and coordination. Concussions are usually caused by a blow to the head.”
Finally, a pretty decent swing and a hit. We will call this a definition a ground rule double in Millennial concussion education tools. While “Ok, Google” did a decent job in defining what a concussion is and by far it was the best of the three queried, there was still a shortcoming in the definition. “Ok, Google” hit the nail on the head with stating that a concussion is a traumatic brain injury, in-fact according to the NATA’s Position Statement on Concussion, concussions are a mild TBI or mTBI. So, that jumping off point in the definition was a great start. “Ok, Google” also took the time to reference its source, Mayo Clinic, which neither of the predecessors did. The only concern was once more the inclusion of the usual cause being associated to a blow to the head, while the research suggests that other causes include violent shaking, blows to the body translate movement to the head, or even explosions. Overall, “Ok, Google”‘s response was the strongest of the three Virtual Assistants/AIs, and while it is not the best definition it was a decent one. Thus, Android’s “Ok, Google” receives an acceptable status from this Sports Medicine professional.
The strongest definition to date for concussion can still be found in the 5th International Consensus Statement on Concussion (2017):
“Sport related concussion is a traumatic brain injury induced by biomechanical forces. Several common features that may be utilised in clinically defining the nature of a concussive head injury include:
►► SRC may be caused either by a direct blow to the head, face, neck or elsewhere on the body with an impulsive force transmitted to the head.
►► SRC typically results in the rapid onset of short-lived impairment of neurological function that resolves spontaneously. However, in some cases, signs and symptoms evolve over a number of minutes to hours.
►► SRC may result in neuropathological changes, but the acute clinical signs and symptoms largely reflect a functional disturbance rather than a structural injury and, as such, no abnormality is seen on standard structural neuroimaging studies.
►► SRC results in a range of clinical signs and symptoms that may or may not involve loss of consciousness. Resolution of the clinical and cognitive features typically follows a sequential course. However, in some cases symptoms may be prolonged.”
As far as seeking out great information and concussion education for parents, coaches, or even student-athletes, there is a series of free courses that take approximately 15 minutes to complete that are offered by Sports Safety International, they are called the ConcussionWise course series and can be found at the following links:
While there is no way to prevent every concussion from occurring, education on concussion and best practices in prevention can help minimize risk. Always ensure that any resource being used is one of quality and grounded in the proper research, so that you know you are receiving accurate and correct information, especially when concerning mild traumatic brain injuries and student-athletes.
Author: Jeremy D. Howard, MS, LAT, ATC, CSCS, CES, PES, ITAT
Broglio, S.P., Cantu, R.C., Gioia, G.A., Guskiewicz, K.M., Kutcher, J., Palm, M., and Valovich McLeod, T.C. (2014). National athletic trainers’ association position statement: Management of sport concussion. Journal of Athletic Training, 49(2), 245-265.
Desy, J.R., Darcy, A.R., and Wolanskyj, A.P. (2017). Milestones and Millennials: A perfect pairing– competency-based medical education and the learning preferences of Generation Y. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 92(2), 243-250.
McCroy, P., Meeuwisse, W., Dvorak, J., Aubry, M., Bailes, J., Broglio, S., …, and Vos, P.E. (2017). Consensus statement on concussion in sport– the 5th international conference on concussion in sport held in Berlin, October 2016. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 0, 1-10.
Roberts, D.H., Newman, L.R., and Schwartzstein, R.M. (2012). Twelve tips for facilitating Millennial’s learning. Medical Teacher, 34(4), 274-278.