Vancouver-based HeadCheck Health keeps athletes safe after concussions

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      As fears of traumatic brain injury rise and scientists are increasingly recognizing the long-term dangers of concussion, Vancouver company HeadCheck Health hopes to protect athletes from harm.

      HeadCheck is a mobile app and web platform that provides medical and non-medical personnel like coaches, safety officers, and trainers the tools to follow the correct protocol when a player gets a concussion. Licensed healthcare professionals can use the service to perform concussion testing, while coaches and supervisors can use HeadCheck to record information about the head injury including symptoms, and transfer that data to a doctor.

      As well as using the software for individual cases, coaches can use the platform to monitor injuries across the team and receive customized reports that show gaps, trends, and areas for player safety improvement. If a player receives a concussion, HeadCheck makes it possible to track their status, and ensures individuals do not return to training until they are marked in the team’s database as cleared by a medical professional.

      First conceived in 2012, HeadCheck now counts a number of high profile users, including the Canadian Junior Hockey League, BC Hockey, Rugby Ontario, Western Lacrosse Association, and the UBC Thunderbirds. This week, it has announced its first partnership with a national-level organization: Volleyball Canada.

      "Concussions are a major concern in sport these days and volleyball is no exception,” said Kerry MacDonald, director of sport science, sport medicine, and innovation at Volleyball Canada. “As a national sport organization, it is important that we are leading in best practices when it comes to the health and safety of our players. This partnership with HeadCheck ensures we’re at the forefront of player safety when it relates to concussion."

      While football, hockey, or rugby might be more commonly associated with the injury, research conducted by Volleyball Canada has revealed that more than 7 percent of youth volleyball players will endure a concussion over the course of a season. The majority of those occur when a player is struck in the head with a ball (57 percent), and individuals are at a near-equal concussion risk during training or a game.

      HeadCheck will work with the Canadian women’s and men’s national indoor, beach, and sitting teams to assess anyone affected by the injury using a customized concussion protocol. The medical staff on every team has been trained how to use the mobile app for baseline and post-injury assessments, and are able to compare their data to preexisting judgments in order to better determine a person’s condition. Any information that staff or coaches collect will be available instantly to medical professionals to provide the best care possible.

      "We are extremely excited by the opportunity to partner with a national program like Volleyball Canada and show what’s possible when an entire program adopts HeadCheck,” said Harrison Brown, CEO of HeadCheck Health. "We are hopeful this will lead to a wide scale adoption across the country and raise the standard for concussion care at all levels of the sport."

      Kate Wilson is the Technology Editor at the Georgia Straight. Follow her on Twitter @KateWilsonSays

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