Smart phone app helps parents, coaches track injuries - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Smart phone app helps parents, coaches track injuries

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A Wisconsin youth football league is gaining national attention for being at the top of its game when it comes to keeping tabs on player injuries.

This season, the Dane County Area Youth Football League has started using a smart phone app called "Player's Health". It allows parents to become more actively involved in tracking their kids injuries. The app connects coaches with parents and doctors to keep track of the moment an injury happens all the way through until the doctor clears the athlete to play again. 

Rita Tuinstra, a parent of two young football players in Madison, says the app offers some peace of mind after an injury.

"My son had an injury and he was cleared to play by his doctor but I was able to put it on the app so the director could see, his coach could see, and I didn't have to bring a note," Tuinstra says. "It's just really nice, it's convenient, it's handy and it does give you a sense of security having it."

There are about 175 kids in the league this season and league president Jon Schwichtenberg says nearly all the families signed on to the program to keep track of injuries, which has helped the coaches better understand what's going on with each child and allows the parent to make the decisions.

"It totally puts all the impetus back onto the parents and lets them control whether their kid can actually play in sports or not and when," Schwichtenberg says. "There's information enough getting out there that football is safe and the things that we're doing with Player's Health, with USA Football, those things are helping us get back on track and start growing more kids into the sport."

The league saw a big increase in participation this year after enrollment had dropped by half in the past five years, amid concerns nationally over concussions and player safety and interests in other sports, according to Schwichtenberg.

Player's Health co-founder Toby Kinsler says the NFL Foundation is doing a case study of the Dane County league's success integrating the app and may use the group as an example to set an initiative for every league in USA Football, looking at how the league managed injuries and communicated with parents.

"They were able to oversee the entire health analytics of their entire organization," says Kinsler. "Their coaches were able to manage the health of their rosters in an active way, so as opposed to just individual athletes having their own profile and the parents being able to manage it independently, this has been a league-wide and team mandate that's helped to sustain and grow, not only the culture of the program, but also the safety and long-term health of the program."

Kinsler, who's from Dane County and started the app about two years ago, says nearly 500-thousand athletes and their parents use the program nationwide. He expects those numbers could double or triple in the next six months. Click here for more information on the program.

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