USA Gymnastics partners with CrashCourse, a concussion education program

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USA Gymnastics announced a partnership with CrashCourse, a training program aimed at helping athletes reduce the incidence of concussions, on Monday. 

Developed by TeachAids, a health education non-profit founded by Stanford Graduate School of Education lecturer Piya Sorcar M.A. ’06 Ph.D. ’09, CrashCourse is already used by 19 national sports organizations. CrashCourse uses a mix of interactive and brain fly-through videos as well as a symptoms story wall featuring the narratives of individuals impacted by concussions to educate athletes, coaches and parents on the markers of a concussion. 

Sorcar stated in a press release that she is proud of the new partnership. “It is critical to educate our athletes about this invisible injury across all sports. USA Gymnastics is leading by example,” she said.

Leaders at USA Gymnastics are also excited about the opportunity to use the technology and educational materials provided by CrashCourse. According to Kim Kranz, USA Gymnastics athletic wellness chief, CrashCourse resources will add a “unique perspective” to the “library of educational materials” available to the gymnastics community.

Dick Gould, the vice chairman at TeachAids and former Stanford tennis coach, said CrashCourse has formed with a trusted relationship with USA Gymnastics. The CrashCourse team is impressed by USA Gymnastics’ rapid response to their programs, according to Gould. 

“They [USA Gymnastics] believe in our product as a good complement to their existing safety protocols,” Gould said. Gould also said it is important for governing sports organizations to implement CrashCourse into their pre-existing concussion programs. 

“It’s a common misconception that concussions are primarily related to football injuries,” Gould added. “However, research shows that this is a problem that extends far beyond one sport. The U.S. Olympic Committee and Paralympic Committee are big advocates for safety education amongst all of their sports, and concussion is among these.” 

To track progress, each national governing sports body monitors the use of educational programs such as CrashCourse through their own management system. USA Gymnastics will do the same. 

USA Gymnastics has been under scrutiny in recent years over allegations about its treatment of athletes. Earlier this year, Netflix released a documentary, “Athlete A,” about accusations that U.S. Gymnastics national team doctor Larry Nassar sexually abused minors for many decades. Nassar was convicted in 2018 on seven counts of sexual assault and sentenced to up to 175 years in state prison. 

In the coming months, TeachAids will continue to develop the multi-sport version of CrashCourse which is tailored to a variety of sports. The model has been in use for a few seasons, and researchers are collecting data on how the program impacts the behavior of coaches and athletes. The target date for completion is late 2021.

CrashCourse is available online for free, and according to its website, has reached thousands of youth in major school districts across the United States.

“We strongly believe that athletes of all ages and abilities, as well as their parents and coaches, will be able to make better choices with accurate, research-based information that is presented in a concise and compelling manner,” Gould said.

Contact Anuka Mohanpuhr at anuka ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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