Implementing Sway: A First-Hand Look at Cutting the Cord to the Sidelines

Original Article

Published by Allison Strickland at ATStudy Buddy


When Matt An, MS, ATC, LAT, FMSC decided to begin the search for a new concussion management solution, he knew that simplicity and the ability to streamline concussion baseline and on-field assessments were key. Matt is the Director of Sports Medicine at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland where he has served since 2019. Prior to his tenure at Washington College, Matt worked at Randolph-Macon College, the prestigious IMG Academy, and completed an internship with the Houston Texans. He obtained his Master of Science in Human Development and Leadership at Murray State University and his Bachelor of Science degree in Athletic Training from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

The Stats

Location: Washington College, Chestertown, Maryland

Athletics: 18 sports teams with approx 350 athletes

Staff: 4 staff athletic trainers

Developing a Comprehensive Concussion Management Program

Coming into Washington College, Matt faced the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic during his first full school year. Through great leadership, Matt was able to face these challenges and develop a new concussion management plan at his college. Matt cites Dr. Jeremy Ng (Associate Lead Primary Care Team Physician for the Los Angeles Dodgers) as being a mentor to him in improving concussion management in practice during his time at IMG Academy. “He was the one that really taught us VOMS and eye-tracking, just really pioneering concussion management. I was able to take what I learned from him to Randolph-Macon and then on to Washington College.”

Before using Sway, Matt used other neurocognitive tests, including SCAT, but began looking into new alternatives once he was in charge of his own sports medicine program. “We switched over to Sway altogether. Sway is Arrington compliant, which was important to us as an NCAA member institution. We went with Sway because they offered all the symptom checking, memory, balance – everything that you could want to test you can test with Sway,” said Matt.

Cutting the Cord from Outdated Assessment Methods

When Matt first began to evaluate different concussion management products, he knew there was more he wanted to dig into beyond pricing. Having a tool that was sideline accessible was important to him for his sports medicine program. “Beyond pricing, I wanted something that was sideline accessible, something where you can literally test athletes on the field and get data in real-time to compare to a baseline,” noted Matt. Accessibility and ease of use were important determinants for choosing Sway. “We would have to schedule computer labs and spend hours and hours just trying to get all of the testing components together. Then if something were to happen, we’d have to reserve the get that computer lab again and minimize distractions. Plus, there was no balance component.”  

Confidence in Concussion Management Moving Forward

Something that Matt takes seriously when evaluating any new vendor is their customer experience. Matt said, “Ever since we switched over to Sway, any questions I have they’re always fast to respond – they’re on it and explain everything. Even if they don’t have an answer right away, they get on it and get back to me really quickly.” Consistent improvements to the app and positive feedback from athletics personnel have also been favorite aspects of the switch for An. “My coaches tell me after we finish our baseline testing, ‘wait, what do you mean, it’s that easy?’ and like the fact that we’re not wasting more than 45 minutes of their time. Once they understand what Sway testing is about and how easy it is to administer, they just get it.”

Using Sway not only as a concussion assessment tool but as a rehab tool. Matt frequently uses Sway’s balance component, which includes single-leg, double-leg, and tandem step balance, to work with his athletes as they progress through their return-to-play protocol.

Since Matt became an AT, he has seen first-hand the changes in how concussions are managed now versus when he first started. Based on his experience and interactions with a multi-disciplinary team of healthcare professionals, Matt said, “Prevention is just going to continue to be a lot better, and I think concussion care is going to be emphasized more and more.”