Concussions are an issue in nearly every contact sport. This is true not only at the professional level, but also for kids just starting out. To help reduce concussions and inform younger players, TeachAids and Stanford University collaborated to create the CrashCourse VR interactive software. Using the software, young athletes can learn how concussions are caused and how to treat them.
CrashCourse VR is also launching in partnership with USA Football and Pop Warner Little Scholars. It allows wearers to see what it is like to be concussed in a high school football game. The free software can be downloaded on Oculus Rift and Oculus Go, and can also be used by classrooms, hospitals, and sports museums. You can see a trailer for the non-VR version below.
Making football safer
The software will feature information from football players, who give wearers information on preventing and treating concussions. According to studies cited in the CrashCourse concussion education video, most concussions heal within 10 days if the proper steps are taken (Iverson et al., 2017; Teel et al., 2017.) The company found that users were more willing to learn new behaviors when in a distraction-free environment like a VR headset. Concussions are quite common among American youth, with more than 2.5 million suffered each year.
“In this digital native generation, we are excited to be among the first to use the uniquely immersive features of VR to help solve important health issues,” said TeachAids CEO Dr. Piya Sorcar in a press release. “We hope that these educational materials will provide young football players, as well as youth in sports, with the knowledge and tools necessary to keep themselves safer.”
Preventing concussions and other blows to the head is important not just for short-term health, but long-term health, as well. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is a degenerative condition that typically manifests itself years after repeated hits to the head. It can result in aggression, depression, and other behavioral symptoms in those affected. The discovery of the condition and affected former NFL players was dramatized in the film Concussion, starring Will Smith. Steps have been taken by the football organizations to minimize them in recent years. These include a “targeting” penalty in the NCAA that results in the ejection of any player who intentionally tackles another player’s head.