Balance-testing app used in concussion-treatment program

Original Press Release

Published by Chris Williams at

It's a story that never seems to go away: Playing sports is a huge asset to Arizona students, but it can also open the door to concussions.

Several Arizona student-athletes are getting world-class concussion treatment through a revolutionary program by experts at Barrow Neurological Institute that helps better diagnose and prepare treatments for head injuries... and it's free to families.

It's a mobile app called Sway Balance, and it will help experts, on the sidelines, objectively measure and compare whether a child is suffering from a head injury. Using the built-in motion sensors of a mobile device, Sway Balance enables testers to measure an athlete's balance.

"This app for us is incredibly revolutionary," said Dr. Javier Cardenas of the Barrow Neurological Institute.

Cardenas is medical director of Barrow Concussion and Brain Injury Center at St. Joseph's and the man leading the charge in preventing, diagnosing, and treating head injuries for Arizona student-athletes.

"The way that we are using this tool is as one piece of the puzzle," Dr. Cardenas said. "We use impact testing for cognition and thinking, we look at symptom scores that the athletes have, and now we look at balance in order to get a full picture of what is going on in the athlete after a concussion."

Dr. Cardenas has armed athletic trainers at 100 schools with the app to test athletes before they play in order to better define injuries and treatment. It's a pilot program he hopes to expand to all AIA schools next year.

"Not only are they able to use this application on a mobile device, but the athletic trainer is able to administer this on the sideline, in the locker room, in the athletic training room, and evaluate them after an injury," said Dr. Cardenas.

If there's an injury on the sideline, Sway Balance allows the athletic trainer to send Dr. Cardenas an emergency message so he can help diagnose from afar and speed treatment when moments matter.

Sway Balance costs tens of thousands of dollars and Barrow Concussion Network is footing the bill.

Cardenas said that the Arizona State University Athletic Department is involved in this pilot program as well.

At the moment they're using this app for all AIA sports.