A voice-analysis program run on a tablet could help high school and youth coaches recognize concussions on the sidelines of football and other high-impact sport games.
After identifying concussions in collegiate boxers in a preliminary study, University of Notre Dame researchers will soon test the app on approximately 1,000 youth and high school football players. The program pulls out the vowel segment from a set of predetermined words and then analyzes that sound for changes that may indicate a brain injury.
Despite all the attention given to the issue in recent years, concussions are still a “highly underrecognized injury,” says Gerry Gioia, a pediatric neuropsychologist at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that as many as 3.8 million sports-related concussions occur in the U.S. each year; but because concussion can go undiagnosed, the true number of such injures could be much higher. Most concussions are not accompanied by loss of consciousness, and the variety of symptoms can be subtle and difficult to spot. But catching concussion can be critically important for athletes, since it can put them at greater risk for another injury. Problems with memory and mental agility associated with concussion get worse with repeated concussions.