Statement of Purpose Although virtual reality (VR) technology may offer advantages over traditional approaches to concussion education (e.g., informational handouts), no study to date has used this technology to simulate the potential visual and auditory effects of concussion. This study describes approaches used to develop a VR concussion education app, Make Play Safe (MPS), that targets improving concussion recognition and reporting among youth soccer athletes aged 9–12 years old.
Methods/Approach We first conducted a focus group with experts (n=10) in new product development about our proof-of-concept VR concussion app. We interviewed 6 additional experts in-person to elicit feedback on the design and content of our VR app prototype. Finally, we validated the scenarios and symptoms portrayed in our VR app prototype with concussed children (n=5) after they learned about concussions from a narrator and then virtually experienced a concussion. All feedback was used to improve the app.
Results Experts rated the visual and sensory features of the VR app positively. They noted that the design and content were innovative and age-appropriate for our target group. Children with a history of concussion indicated that the scenarios and symptoms portrayed in the app were very similar to those they actually experienced. They felt the app would be a helpful and engaging way for children to learn about concussion because it allowed them to experience various simulated concussion symptoms both on the simulated soccer field (after a virtual injury) as well as after returning to their virtual home.
Conclusion A mobile-based VR platform, MPS, enables standardized intervention delivery and objective data collection, which can serve as the means to improve concussion recognition and reporting of children.
Significance This approach has potential for rapid, scalable, national/international dissemination and implementation among youth sports organizations, schools, and community groups.
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