So, before I begin this blog I must admit that I am over the age of 6-8 and I know that may come as a surprise to some of you; however, I still downloaded this app to see how great the product was with regard to concussion education for children.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC)’s HEADS UP created a great application for creating culture change in concussion education in our nation’s youth. The name of this application is Rocket Blades and its intent is to teach 6-8 year olds about:
- Different types of injuries that can lead to a concussion.
- The importance of self-reporting concussion symptoms.
- The importance of rest in concussion recovery.
The game opens with an introduction of the “team” of athletes and game’s explanation. It even stresses that though the team may wear helmets, they can still get a head injury if they fall. Then it shows an animation showing how when the head hits a surface that the brain still shakes back and forth inside the skull. Let me start with this is an awesome learning point for the kiddoes, one of the biggest issues come across in the field is that most people, athletes, coaches, and even some healthcare professionals cannot identify the majority of concussion symptoms or believe that it either a concussion requires a hit to the head, requires being knocked out, or that helmets will protect from concussion (Sullivan et al, 2009).
The game has various levels of play, it starts out easy… yes I know I am not a 6-8 year old kiddo, but the levels do get progressively harder! Once the skater gets going if he or she crashes then the game player has the option to select to sit out the team’s avatar to rest or to go on and play the concussed skater. What really stuck out to me in the game was that once the skater is concussed if the player chooses not to sit the skater and continue playing him or her, the screen begins to get blurry and react slower to the player’s commands. This is a great demonstration as to the effects of trying to play through a concussion.
Showing these effects of trying to play through a concussion are ideally meant to build a strong culture around concussion education. This will hopefully help with the major issue in underreporting of concussions, some estimates are that only 33.5% of concussed athletes will report their symptoms (Llewellyn et al, 2014). This underreporting issue can lead to major concerns for potential Second Impact Syndrome, a pathology that kills 50% of those who get it. See our blog on Second Impact Syndrome to learn much more.
I truly do not know what is worse, the issues surrounding Second Impact Syndrome in our youth population or the fact that there is still so much unknown about the long term effects of a concussion in the developing brain of a youth-athlete.
Overall, I think to advise parents I would suggest to have your kids download the app and play it to learn. The game is actually even fun for us older folks! The only issue I have with regard to this game is that it is currently only available for the IOS (apple) platform. So, us Android fans will have to wait until it is available for our platform too.
But there is still hope for all of us who use the Android platform, the CDC does have other applications or even online courses designed to help educate all levels (parents, kids, and practitioners) on concussions. Here is a link if you would like to reference those:
Overview of the App:
- IOS only 😦
- That’s it
My take away for any parent in this post, is that education is important for our kiddoes to ensure a culture change occurs surrounding concussions symptom identification and self reporting of symptoms to someone who can help. After all, 33.5% is unacceptable, that’s 66.5% of unreported concussions…
By: Jeremy D. Howard, MS, LAT, ATC, CSCS, CES, PES, ITAT
Llewellyn, T., Burdette, G.T., Joyner, A.B., & Buckley, T.A. (2014). Concussion reporting rates at the conclusion of an intercollegiate athletic career. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, 24(1), 76-79.
Sullivan, S.J., Bourne, L., Choie, S., Eastwood, B., Isbister, S., McCrory, P., & Gray, A. (2009). Understanding of sport concussion by the parents of young rugby players: A pilot study. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, 19, 228-230.
Williamson, I.J.S. & Goodman, D. (2006). Converging evidence for the under-reporting of concussions in youth ice hockey. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 40, 128-132.