Concussion applications have the potential to be a game-changer among on-field, medical and non-medical personnel in the early recognition and tracking of possible concussions. It is vital that parents, trainers, and physicians alike are using proper concussion medical apps that implement the most up to date guidelines. However, this is becoming increasingly difficult with the numerous concussion applications available in the iTunes App Store.

In a recent article, iMedicalApps summarized the guidelines developed by the leading experts in the field – the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, American Academy of Neurology, and the Zurich Consensus working group – in order to develop criteria for evaluating concussion applications aimed at diagnosis and initial assessment.

This article will sift through all the concussion apps available in the iTunes App Store and critique those that make the initial screening process using our evidence-based criteria, while providing a brief overview of each app.

The guideline summary for the 3 bodies is illustrated in the table below:

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Based on commonalities among the recommendations set by these 3 expert bodies we identified the following components as being vital concussion application features:

  • Graded symptoms checklist
  • Cognitive testing
  • Balance testing

Additional features iMedicalApps recognized as being useful: ability to establish a baseline score, serial evaluations, secure information-sharing capability.

For a detailed explanation of each component refer to the concussion app development article we have published prior on iMedicalApps.

We did a systematic search and review of the iTunes App Store in April 2014 to find the best available concussion apps geared towards diagnosis and screening. Using the keyword “concussion” yielded 29 results for the iPhone. The results were further narrowed down according to the following inclusion criteria:

  • Updated within the past 2 years–if an app has not been updated in the past 2 years, it is safe to assume it has been orphaned.
  • Intended for immediate help with diagnosis and screening for both clinicians and on-field non-medical personnel.
  • The content of the app is evidence-based or has been created/developed by medical experts, meaning the app’s content is supported by literature or has at least been designed by academic medical professionals.

After applying these three screening criteria, we were left with 7 apps – SCAT2, The Concussion Recognition and Response, Concussion Quick Check, Concussion Coach, Concussion Assessment & Response: Sport Version, Sideline ImPACT, and 1stResponder.

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Based on the table above (file can be seen here:ConcussionAppTable), its apparent that the majority of the concussion apps available in the iTunes App Store do not follow the most current recommendations set forth by concussion literature. Based on our search criteria, which eliminated orphaned apps and those not focused on initial assessment/diagnosis, we were left with a single app – Concussion Assessment & Response: Sport Version-that fulfilled iMedicalApps’ criteria.

The Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 2 (SCAT2) would have likely been the clear winner since the app not only met all of our criteria, but has a simple and easy interface to navigate through and password protected information sharing. Unfortunately, the developers of SCAT2 faltered by inactivating the application when a paper version of SCAT3, updated SCAT2, was published and with no SCAT3 app in the foreseeable future.

Instead, they should have left the SCAT2 app operational until they were ready to release the SCAT3 app, especially since the differences between SCAT2 and SCAT3 are minimal. If and when SCAT3 is released, it will likely take the place of the Concussion Assessment & Response: Sport Version app as our top recommendation.

However, at the time of publish, iMedicalApps recommends the Concussion Assessment & Response: Sport Version for physicians, coaches, and parents alike, seeking to assess possible concussions. A detailed app review of Concussion Assessment & Response: Sport Version will follow within the week.