Editor's Note: A look ahead
We'd like to thank all of our subscribers and customers for taking part in efforts to raise awareness about sports-related concussions.
Today, there are only a handful of states that have not passed nor have pending "concussion laws" whose aim it is to protect our young Athletes.
Building on momentum from 2011 and our pioneering Baseline test giveaway for schools, leagues, and clubs; this year Axon Sports continues its mission to broaden access to Baseline tests for concussion management. We're excited about new partnerships with Korrio, SportsSignup, and US Youth Soccer.
We continue to build out our Ahead of the Game toolkit with best practices for concussion management programs, making it easier for you to implement and communicate your plans.
Axon Sports is a dedicated team of scientists, researchers, business development professionals, customer service representatives, and sports fans. We’re committed to advancing sports-related safety and health measures while helping Athletes play prepared with brand new cognitive training programs. This issue of Equipped features thoughtful insight on the most common reasons Athletes don’t earn acceptable Baseline test results on the Axon Sports CCAT. As always, be sure to use the links to learn more. Enjoy this quarter's newsletter!
US Youth Soccer and Axon Sports bring Affordable Concussion Management to Leagues, Teams, and Clubs
US Youth Soccer, the nation’s largest youth sports organization, recently announced Axon Sports as a long-term strategic partner for computerized Baseline testing for concussion management, leading the way in making soccer safer for kids at the grassroots level. Through the relationship, US Youth Soccer will provide member discounts and educational resources on USYouthSoccer.org. It will also provide more than 25,000 US Youth Soccer players free access to the Axon Sports Computerized Cognitive Assessment Tool (CCAT).
“We are excited to work together with US Youth Soccer to broaden access to affordable Baseline testing,” Axon Sports President and CEO Polly James said. “We know educating Coaches and Parents on the role of Baseline testing will lead to more awareness around the crucial health issue of concussions. It allows more players to complete Baseline tests and ultimately assists the Healthcare Providers who treat players with head injuries.” Axon Sports has posted a landing page for US Youth soccer members at axonsports.com/usyouthsoccer
Team Administrators, Coaches and Parents, realizing concussions are a serious health concern in youth sports, are looking for solutions to help safeguard the future of their players. Most states have passed laws mandating concussion education for Coaches; some include educational requirements for Parents and Athletes.
US Youth Soccer President John Sutter said, “Supporting the game we all love is a priority for US Youth Soccer, our 55 US Youth Soccer State Associations, and our local member clubs and associations across the country. Supporting the game also means helping to keep our players safe. Recommending and providing access to Baseline testing reflects our commitment to player safety and vetting solutions for our members.”
The International Consensus on Concussion in Sport recognized cognitive Baseline testing as a cornerstone in an effective concussion management program. Once reserved primarily for professional and collegiate Athletes, now youth sports leagues, teams and clubs have access to an affordable, convenient tool to help manage concussions in players as young as age 10. Read the entire release
Coaches, Athletic Directors, League Administrators
THE SPRING SPORTS SEASON IS HERE!
PLAY PREPARED WITH A BASELINE TEST
What's your game plan for managing concussions? In addition to knowing concussion signs and symptoms, it's time to add preseason Baseline tests to your checklist. A Baseline test plays a vital role by capturing a snapshot of an Athlete's brain function. In the event of a concussion, a qualified Medical Provider can use the Baseline test result as the benchmark for an After Injury test and a return-to-play decision.
Plus, add something new to your communication repertoire. Check out our Ahead of the Game toolkit to help you implement your concussion management program and communicate it with Parents. The toolkit provides posters, sample documents, presentations, and videos plus access to online safety courses, including those created by the University of Michigan Neurosport to help coaches recognize the signs and symptoms of concussion.
FEEDBACK FROM THE FIELD RESULTS IN NEW FEATURES
When chatting with customers across a range of markets, often we hear suggestions that make us wonder, “Why didn’t we think of that?” Our new Date of Injury on the After Injury reports is one of those. Requested by a Medical Provider, the Athlete will now be prompted to enter the date of their injury before taking an After Injury test. This date will be displayed and plotted on the After Injury test report.
In addition, Medical Providers now have the ability to extract summary raw data for more than one Athlete at a time and download into a single spreadsheet.
Whether a complaint, suggestion, inquiry or compliment, we want to hear from you so that we can continue to improve our services. If you have an idea you’d like us to consider, please send an email to email@example.com
Meet our newest team member – Jason Cromer
Dr. Jason Cromer,
Axon Sports Scientific Team
Axon Sports is pleased to welcome Dr. Jason A. Cromer to our scientific team. Dr. Cromer earned his B.S. in computer science from Lafayette College and his Ph.D. in Biomedical Science with a specialty in Neuroscience from the University of Connecticut, Health Center. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Cognitive Neuropsychology and Neurophysiology at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and the department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Cromer then received additional postdoctoral training in epilepsy through the department of Neurology at Yale School of Medicine before joining Axon Sports.
Dr. Cromer brings expertise in cognitive neuropsychology and the neural basis for cognition and movement to Axon Sports. In his new role, Dr. Cromer will lead and collaborate on research into sports concussion that takes advantage of the Axon Sports Computerized Cognitive Assessment Tool (CCAT). Unlike the majority of cognitive tests, the Axon Sports CCAT was designed to be administered repeatedly making it ideal for assessing subtle cognitive change due to concussion, by comparing an After Injury test to a pre-season Baseline test. Dr. Cromer is also available to discuss and answer questions relating to the science behind the Axon Sports CCAT.
“I am especially pleased that Axon Sports provides cutting edge cognitive testing for sports concussion while putting the Athlete first,” said Dr. Cromer. “At the same time, we recognize the Axon Sports CCAT is one part of an effective concussion management program that should be run by a qualified Medical Provider.” He also appreciates that science at Axon Sports is forward thinking and innovative, striving to advance research into sports concussion.
David Darby, MB, BS, PhD FRACP
Axon Sports Medical Consultant
A look at the most common reasons an Athlete doesn’t earn an acceptable Baseline test result
By Dr. David Darby, Neurologist,
Axon Sports Medical Consultant
Changes in cognitive performance can be quite subtle after concussion. Detecting these as sensitively as possible depends upon an Athlete giving their best effort at Baseline testing. There are many reasons why an Athlete may not obtain an “acceptable” Baseline result and the coaching that is appropriate may vary depending upon the reason. This article outlines the most common reasons, their underlying causes and the coaching tips that might be most appropriate for the testing supervisors. Continue reading
Bridgett Wallace, PT, DPT
Ask The Expert
Q: What’s the benefit of combining Balance and Cognitive testing for concussion management?
Bridgett Wallace, PT, DPT:
A: As early as 2001, the International Conference on Concussion in Sport recognized cognitive testing as a “cornerstone” in concussion evaluation. There is also a growing body of research whose results indicate that head trauma can result in cognitive and balance impairments. Today a thorough concussion management program, like the program offered by Biodex Medical Systems, will include both cognitive and balance testing.
Assessing balance, as it relates to the inner ear (vestibular) system, is of particular value as it can be compromised following head trauma. Vestibular dysfunction commonly results in symptoms of dizziness, unsteadiness, visual changes, fatigue and even decreased concentration. These symptoms are frequently reported post-concussion. In addition, the vestibular system is highly integrated with an Athlete’s visual system. Reported symptoms of visual “blurriness” are also common, especially with rapid head movements and busy environments.
It is especially important to perform cognitive and balance testing before the season begins – not only to establish a Baseline for comparative data but to identify pre-existing impairments. Axon Sports offers an online cognitive test suitable for Athletes as young as age 10. For pre-season balance testing, there are both computerized (Biodex and NeuroCom) and non-computerized balance tests (the BESS or clinical balance tests) to assess how the Athlete uses their various sensory balance systems (e.g., vision, touch and the inner ear). Such testing should be coupled with a medical and concussion history, a graded symptom checklist, and a neurological examination that includes cognition, balance and visual tests (both static and dynamic vision). Utilizing a multi-faceted approach adds clinical value and enforces that no tool should be used in isolation for return-to-play decisions.
The American Academy of Pediatrics expects the volume of sports-related concussions managed by primary care and pediatric practices will increase as school athletic programs adopt the mandates of their state’s concussion law. It’s important that these Medical Providers have our support and be familiar with the best practices for concussion management. There are several assessment tools, including the Axon Sports CCAT, available to support these Medical Providers. Additionally, there are a growing number of educational opportunities for Medical Providers in regards to concussion management like the services offered by Concussion Health. The cornerstone of Concussion Health is education, striving to streamline a variety of online and web-based tools to aid Medical Providers throughout the RTP process. And while there is no one test or set timeline that will provide all the answers, increasing accessibility to a variety of assessment and treatment tools will bring forth better care for our Athletes.
Bridgett Wallace, PT, DPT, has a doctorate of physical therapy and holds a competency-based certification in vestibular rehabilitation. She has been treating patients with dizziness and balance disorders for more than 15 years and is the founder and President of 360° Balance – a specialty clinic for the evaluation and treatment of dizziness and balance disorders that includes both audiology and therapy services. She is also the founder and CEO of Concussion Health, which specializes in online and mobile tools for concussion management.
Survey of Youth Soccer Coaches Reveals Knowledge Gap between Concussion Awareness and Safety Measures for Players
At the recent US Youth Soccer Workshop, Axon Sports and Korrio introduced the results of a Youth Soccer Coaches Concussion Awareness Survey.
1 in 4 youth soccer coaches have little or no understanding of concussions.
The research, which polled more than 250 youth soccer coaches from around the country, revealed 75 percent of youth soccer coaches are “very” or “extremely” aware of sports-related concussions in youth sports, and more than 80 percent of respondents indicated their organizations have an established set of guidelines pertaining to player concussions. The survey results also showed that coaches have a gap in their concussion management knowledge, with only half of the respondents indicating familiarity with Baseline testing, widely considered a best-practice protocol for concussion management.
More than 33 percent of coaches have not implemented sideline protocols for dealing with head injuries nor have concussion management plans in place.
Download the full results of the survey
Said Axon Sports CEO Polly James, “While the results are encouraging, more education is needed regarding both overall concussion awareness and Baseline testing for youth Athletes.”
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has released new guidelines for team physicians. Of note, “Under no circumstances should an Athlete suspected of, or diagnosed with, a concussion return to play the day of their injury.” Concussion and the Team Physician: A Consensus Statement – 2011 Update
The Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) encourages Parents, Coaches, and Healthcare Providers to be more aware of the signs and symptoms of concussion among children and youth. According to its new position statement, Athletes who sustain a head injury should be removed from the activity immediately, and seen by a Physician as soon as possible. To access the position statement, visit: Evaluation and management of children and adolescents with sports-related concussion.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have launched “Heads up for Clinicians: Addressing Concussions in Sports for Kids and Teens,” a free, online course developed through support from the CDC Foundation and the National Football League. Worth noting is the recommendation that an Athlete be referred to a specialist if their symptoms worsen, don’t recover in 10 to 14 days, or if they have a history of multiple concussions or risk factors for prolonged recovery.
PLAYING SUMMER BALL?
Twellman Brings the Athlete POV to Concussions in Soccer
Running as fast as he can toward the net, his jaw meets a goalie’s fist. The video he shows subdues the enthusiastic fans that’ve come out to meet him and listen to his story. An MLS standout, Taylor Twellman’s life changed forever that August day. For months he continued to play the game he loved while working through the symptoms of concussion. Twellman retired from the MLS in 2010 and continues to suffer from concussion symptoms.
Battling migraines and nausea, Twellman participated in concussion presentations at both the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Convention and the US Youth Soccer Workshop. “I know I stand up here and look pretty normal to all of you,” said Twellman at the NSCAA meeting in Kansas City. “The truth is, on a scale of 1-10, my nausea is about an eight.”
Taylor Twellman, now an ESPN commentator, participated in the recent youth soccer meetings to help raise awareness for the injury and to be sure the Athlete’s point of view is considered in discussions. He excels in the question and answer sessions that follow. With his dad, he has also launched thinktaylor.org, a resource for education, support and fundraising to promote positive outcomes from sports-related concussions.
At the US Youth Soccer Workshop, Twellman was joined by another former professional Athlete Chris Nowinski, co-founder and president of the Sports Legacy Institute. Nowinski now dedicates his time to helping protect Athletes through education, behavior change, policy change, and research.
“As Physicians gain more understanding of the pathophysiology and potential complications of concussions, both the media and general public are taking notice. Key professional Athletes, who have struggled with concussions, post-concussive syndrome & long-term complications from concussions, have helped to bring to light the dilemma of concussions. We now understand that concussions aren’t simply ‘no big deal.’ Much is at stake, at all levels of athletics.” Dr. R. Michael Galbraith, Lethbridge, AB, Canada
Editor’s note: Axon Sports participated in two presentations at the US Youth Soccer Workshop regarding concussion management programs, Baseline testing, and using the Axon Sports CCAT. Access to the presentations will be available shortly on the US Youth Soccer web site.
Axon Sports and Axon Potential Merge
Web Pages and Social Media
Axon Sports launched in August 2010 with the Axon Sports Computerized Cognitive Assessment Tool (CCAT), a concussion management system currently used by schools, leagues, and clubs at all levels, along with leading Medical Providers to safeguard the cognitive health of Athletes as young as age 10.
While Athlete safety is of critical concern, Axon Sports was founded with a broader goal of transforming the way Athletes train for sport. We also develop products to train the athletic brain and accelerate the curve of skill acquisition.
Merged Axon Sports and Axon Potential landing page at axonsports.com
Today, Athletes develop key cognitive skills through practice time and game experience. We believe there are ways to isolate and train high-speed decision skills off the field or court, through 'athletic brain training' and provide Athletes with new training tools that accelerate this learning process and the acquisition of athletic expertise. Using Axon Sports programs, Athletes can get added 'mental reps' without taxing the body or risking injury.
Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter as Axon Sports.