Study: Playing smartphone app helps concussion recovery in teens

Study: Playing smartphone app helps concussion recovery in teens

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Study: Playing smartphone app helps concussion recovery in teens

When one suffers a concussion, it is likely that a doctor will advise the patient to avoid screen time on computers, televisions, tablets and smartphones.

Thanks to a new smartphone app, however, there could be a major tweak to that conventional medical wisdom.

Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center recently performed a study where they encouraged teenagers who had suffered concussions to use an app on their smartphones specifically designed to help them recover. The results were encouraging.

“Every single teenager who used the app in our study showed improvements from the time they started playing the game to the time they finished with us,” Lise Worthen-Chaudhari, MFA, the lead author of the study and a researcher at the Wexner Medical Center, said in a University release. “What’s more, the app not only helped them feel emotionally more optimistic about recovering from their concussions, but it also improved physical symptoms like headaches and blurred vision that can severely impact their quality of life.”

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Meanwhile, among teenagers treated from concussions who didn’t use the app, only half reported improvements in symptoms. The other half told researchers their symptoms got worse and there was no reported improvement in optimism about their recovery.

Researcher Lise Worthen-Chaudhari (right) tests out the SuperBetter app at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center with colleague Courtney Bland. Photo: The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

“The key to the app is that it encourages patients to become active participants in their recovery and gives them specific tasks to accomplish in order to better manage their symptoms,” Worthen-Shaudhari said.

The app, called SuperBetter, puts the user in the role of hero in a personal recovery story – battling foes along the way like dizziness and headaches. Additionally, it allows patients to invite friends and family to follow their recovery through the app and to offer encouragement.

There is a community aspect to it, as is the case with many popular smartphone apps.

“We’re still very cautious about limiting screen time during recovery for concussions, but cutting it out altogether can often make patients feel isolated and depressed, especially teenagers,” said Worthen-Chaudhari. “This app makes it possible for them to use screens just a little bit each day while assisting in their recovery from concussion at the same time.”

You can read the rest of the findings here.

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