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How SportGait takes sports concussions head on with Microsoft

By Microsoft in Business Team on December 18, 2017

Filed under Microsoft in Business

Focus on: Optimize Operations, Empower Employees, Transform Products

Dr. Erin Young steps in to the exam room and greets Izzy, a 12-year-old soccer player whose collision with an opponent brought her in to the urgent care clinic. Izzy might be fine, or she may have experienced a significant neurological injury with potentially lifelong consequences if not correctly identified and treated. Izzy, who generally has a high pain threshold, tells Dr. Young that she feels ok. Despite how Izzy feels, Dr. Young knows that Izzy could be minimizing her symptoms. A lack of standard protocol for diagnosing concussions leaves Dr. Young with only the ability to estimate her treatment and recovery timeline.

Sport-related concussion is diagnosed every seven seconds and athletes in almost every sport are at risk. Football, lacrosse, hockey, soccer, gymnastics, wrestling, and basketball all have significant concussion rates. The way athletes with potential concussions are diagnosed, treated, and managed is not standardized and this increases the chance that injured persons will see the wrong type of healthcare professional, will be treated too late, or receive confusing, irrelevant information. What is known is that the potential risk of inaccuracy is high: some concussions can lead to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative brain disease found in athletes and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma. In fact, CTE was recently diagnosed in 87 of 91 deceased NFL players.

“Motion is a window bridging our inner and outer lives.”

Chris Newton, SportGait’s President and CEO, uses this phrase to explain that the patterns of human movement change throughout life: the uncertain steps of a toddler give way to the insecure swagger of an adolescent, over time morphing into the self-assured gait of responsible adulthood, until ultimately culminating in the unsteadiness of geriatric frailty. Motion also affects and reflects a person’s health status. These basic insights of human motion were the catalyst for the SportGait solution—a program that records and analyzes movement in healthy athletes to provide a baseline for those athletes who suffer a head injury.

Optimizing operations with data-driven insights

Prior to SportGait, the process for diagnosing, treating, and following up with concussions looked quite a bit different. Because there is no simple test for diagnosing a concussion, the process is made up of steps, and taken on a case-by-case basis, depending on the situation and the evaluator.

Fortunately for youth athletes, SportGait technology allows caregivers and healthcare professionals to make smarter, data-driven decisions regarding diagnosis, treatment, and management of concussions and improve outcomes for their patients.

SportGait uses the Microsoft Surface Pro to track an athlete’s motion before and after an incident, transforming the way healthcare providers manage their patients. By proactively identifying a healthy baseline in young athletes, the SportGait Concussion Management Operation System (CMOS) enables the medical community to join forces with players, parents, and coaches using objective data to identify, treat, and monitor at-risk athletes.

“Microsoft Surface helped us create a seamless and reliable user experience for our medical customers and their patients.” Newton explains. “We were able to leverage the flexibility and power of the Surface Pro 4 to provide our end users with a single device that can act as a communications gateway for our IoT sensors, an interface to administer our neurocognitive tests and a touch-enabled interface for medical staff to navigate our entire concussion protocol.”

Empowering healthcare providers with improved concussion testing and care

SportGait uses Surface devices to equip healthcare providers with standardized testing protocols. This aids in more accurate diagnosing, monitoring, and establishing follow-up procedures, resulting in a safe-to-safe continuum of care.

The biggest change anticipated with SportGait is that it will put powerful objective insights regarding sport-related head injuries in the hands of healthcare professionals. Although there is an increased emphasis in sports to pay greater attention to possible head injuries (concussions)—especially involving children and youth—the point of contact too often remains those who are not properly trained or qualified to make medical decisions. Marked improvement in care will only occur when health care professionals are making those decisions.

No matter which doctor or clinic has initial contact with the patient, the SportGait CMOS allows healthcare professionals and patients to collect and receive consistent and reliable information. Given the mobile nature of patients not just within communities but between communities, this is critical to ensure a maximally effective standard of care,” Newton says.

SportGait provides the standardized and objective data that health care professionals use to guide their decision making, allowing diagnostic and follow-up care decisions to be made by those most qualified to do so.

Transforming products with powerful analytics

SportGait’s wearable, noninvasive, performance-based technology, combined with IoT and big data, offers important opportunities to significantly advance clinical decision making and healthy behaviors with respect to the detection and management of concussions. Objective analytics can help healthcare providers engage and support athletes outside the clinic, both in terms of making the initial decision to evaluate an injury and with follow-up, diagnostic or return-to-activity protocols. Analytic tools can provide specific instructions to facilitate healthy behaviors and effective decision-making. The collection and evaluation of large amounts of data also allows for refinements in the analytic process over time, so that health care providers and patients receive the most up-to-date decision support available.

Our technology gives individuals unprecedented access to the highest quality healthcare decision-making and it allows healthcare providers to more efficiently manage their patients outside the office/clinic,” says Newton.

The versatility of the Microsoft Surface Pro enables the SportGait medical provider to efficiently set up and administer the entire concussion protocol. The tablet format is ideal in evaluating the athlete’s neuromotor and neuropsychology conditions. Its size and mobility allow SportGait to roll out one type of device as their user base grows, reducing the complexity of support and configuration.

Driving digital transformation through smarter care

Providing baseline testing in youth athletes means smarter care for safer athletes, but that’s not all. The future of concussion management opens the door to using data-driven analytics for many other types of health issues. Imagine being able to use sophisticated motion analytics to positively influence neurological and orthopedic diseases, and other conditions such as osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, falls, hip fractures, and possibly malignancy and the effects of chemotherapy.

SportGait envisions numerous areas where state-of-the-art motion analytic technology can inform and benefit other types of personal and medical decision making, and the company anticipates expansion into those areas in the near future.

Newton and his team at SportGait envision a world where a sports concussion is treated with the same rigor as any sports injury. The first step along that journey is the adoption of as many as 4,500 Surface devices within the next year.  “The Microsoft Surface, and its technical and business teams have exceeded all our expectations,” Newton says. “We believe the options are virtually endless.”

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