(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – In an effort to minimize activity and allow the brain time to rest and heal, doctors advise patients who’ve suffered concussions to avoid screen time on computers, televisions, tablets and smartphones. But during a recent study, researchers actually encouraged teenagers to use an app on their smartphones specifically designed to help them recover. And 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,” said Lise Worthen-Chaudhari, MFA, lead author of the study and a researcher at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “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.”
By contrast, among teenagers treated from concussions who didn’t use the app, only half reported improvements in symptoms. The other half said their symptoms got worse and there was no reported improvement in optimism about their recovery.
“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,” she said.
The app, called SuperBetter, casts the patient as the hero in an ongoing game about their recovery story, requiring them to battle foes like dizziness and headaches along the way. It also allows patients to invite friends and family to follow their recovery through the app and offer encouragement.
“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.”