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CrashCourse educates young people on the prevention and treatment of concussions.
We work with our stakeholders to identify global health challenges to determine if they can be addressed through targeted health education.
As the number of concussions steadily increases so does national attention on the need for effective prevention and treatment. An estimated 2.5M concussions occur each year in the United States alone. It’s an all too common sports injury, yet it’s surrounded by myths and misconceptions. Much is still unknown about the human brain, even with the latest medical technology. While science is evolving, concussions remain, in large part, a mystery.
Three out of five high school athletes don’t report their concussions. Young people are often unaware they have a concussion or they are afraid to speak up. Like many challenging health topics, concussions have also become stigmatized as many athletes opt to play through the symptoms, not fully understanding the consequences. With better prevention education and evolving treatment protocols, together we can support athletes to best navigate through social, structural, and political pressures in order to elevate their performance.
We seek to understand the socioeconomic, medical, and cultural influences impacting the problem.
We aimed to understand the reasons why youth were not reporting concussions and the role education could play to shift this perspective. Our approach began with conducting thousands of hours of interviews across more than 600 stakeholders, including coaches, parents, teachers, and youth athletes. With the target of understanding the culture around sports injuries, our reach was broad and deep — ranging from interviews with local high school athletes to Team USA Olympians.
We discovered that concussions were at the center of many competing challenges. First, although there were ample materials available for parents, coaches, athletic trainers, and medical professionals, there was a dearth of customized research-based education for young people. This was problematic because most decisions to report concussions were ultimately in the hands of the injured youth and their teammates.
Second, rapidly evolving science meant existing materials were often incorrect or outdated. For instance, medical experts shared countless stories of parents administering treatment plans based on misconceptions (e.g., concussions only occur from direct hits to the head, concussions are more serious if there is a loss of consciousness, concussed youth should be woken up periodically to be checked on).
Third, the increasing prevalence of concussions among youth was coupled with an abundance of media attention shedding light on the issue. However, constraints with time and space through news outlets made it difficult for concerned individuals to understand the full picture. Young people often came away with and made decisions based on fragmented knowledge.
We identify solutions that will resonate and thrive in complex and diverse communities.
After collaborating closely with academics, researchers, and doctors, we turned our attention to the target audience: young people. Over the past two years, we worked with hundreds of youth spanning middle school through college. The sessions were conducted formally via two classes offered by Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education. Through numerous design thinking activities and hundreds of iterations on the storyboard, college and youth collaborated with leading experts to build the most engaging curriculum possible. Together they discovered that virtual reality offered an unprecedented opportunity to educate and engage youth on this topic. It provides the opportunity to truly immerse young people in experiences unlike any educational medium out there. CrashCourse is concussion education reimagined for today’s education.
Four areas were identified as necessary to comprehensively educate on this complex topic.
Research revealed that information needed to be packaged in a storyline delivered by trusted voices. This meant no doctors. No parents. No teachers nor even coaches. Athletes were most eager to learn from role models who were recently in their shoes and emphasize with the challenges they face. This need for education provided via “near-peer” role models resulted in the recruitment and close collaboration with the nation’s best athletes.
Our short interactive films share the latest medical knowledge about concussion prevention and treatment. This education was designed to speak in the language of athletes and address their concerns about concussions.
Unlike “visible” injuries, such as a broken bone, concussions cannot be seen in the same way. Even the most powerful medical imaging technologies (MRIs, PET scans, CT scans) cannot detect concussions. Not being able to “see” the injured brain further complicates the understanding of this injury. Using the exact same technology that Stanford’s leading neurosurgeons use to guide surgeries, the Brain Fly-Through allows athletes to explore a real human brain and visualize its complexity.
This product was presented in collaboration with USA Archery, USA Artistic Swimming, USA Baseball, USA Bobsled & Skeleton, USA Cycling, USA Diving, USA Fencing, USA Field Hockey, USA Football, USA Gymnastics, USA Hockey, US Lacrosse, US Ski & Snowboard, US Speedskating, USA Taekwondo, USA Triathlon and USA Wrestling.
Athletes don’t always know what a concussion looks and feels like. This leads to many of them deliberately hiding their injuries from their loved ones, or worse, not recognizing and seeking treatment for their concussions. The Symptoms Story Wall is designed to help them recognize the signs and symptoms of a concussion and empathize with anyone with this invisible injury.
A parents’ section helps them gain insight as to what other parents of young people impacted by a concussion are going through, as well as a special page for military veterans who also share their own personal concussion stories.
We secure strategic partnerships with prominent national and community partners.
With sports being at the intersection of many complementary disciplines, we are building a coalition to engage the most powerful influencers across the world. Together we aim to provide this robust education to youth globally. From policy makers, medical institutions, foundations, and media outlets to schools and sports organizations, we are joining forces to provide much needed comprehensive education to those who need it most, for free. We have built collaborations with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Brain Trauma Foundation, and representatives of many leading universities throughout the country (Stanford University, Harvard University, MIT, UCSF, etc.). Amongst our United States Olympic and Paralympics Committee partners are:
To ensure the creation of medically accurate, unbiased, and trusted materials, TeachAids only accepts funding from entities with no conflicting interests.
Our mission is to provide access to our lifesaving health education to as many people as possible.
Our product suite is available for free through our Creative Commons License as standard videos and in virtual reality. To date, we have secured partnerships to reach thousands of youth across every major school district in the United States. It is our goal for all athletes — regardless of their location, sport, and school — to have access to the curriculum.