March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month. The theme for this year’s biennial campaign is: Not Alone. The VA has studied brain injuries, which have emerged as a major concern of the VA because of the large numbers of Veterans who have suffered traumatic brain injuries – or TBI – during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The VA is using the Internet and mobile phones to extend its outreach programs and support to Veterans needing help with TBI by developing a mobile phone application for Veterans, Servicemembers, and others who have experienced a mild to moderate concussion. It is called Concussion Coach and it is available at the Apple App Store and Google Play. It provides portable tools to assess symptoms and facilitates the use of coping strategies.
Concussions often come with physical problems (such as headaches, balance problems, and dizziness), emotional challenges (such as getting angry more easily) and cognitive problems (such as difficulties with concentration and memory). The nature and range of symptoms can cause considerable distress and frustration, and training in different coping strategies is often necessary.
The features of Concussion Coach include:
- A self-assessment tool for measuring symptoms, with feedback and a graph for tracking symptoms over time
- Symptom relief tools and relaxation exercises for managing problems associated with concussion
- Planning tools to build resilience
- Educational materials about concussion and options for treatment by brain injury professionals
- Immediate access to crisis resources, personal support contacts, or professional healthcare resources
Concussion Coach is intended to support treatment with a healthcare professional by providing portable, convenient tools for the user to assess symptoms and cope with concussion-related problems. The app can also be used on its own, but is not intended to replace professional diagnosis, medical treatment, or rehabilitation therapies for those who need them.