Blog: Why We Partnered with TeachAids
This week we proudly announced our latest partnership with the non-profit TeachAids, a world leader in the design, production and distribution of health education. TeachAids has a long and rich history of excellence in evidence-based design, which utilizes a proprietary methodology that has been shown to be more effective than traditional methods. Using this approach, TeachAids has focused on tackling the most prevalent and stigmatized global health issues, in an effort to reimagine the way many of us feel about them today. By doing so, TeachAids aims to magnify the most common misperceptions, so that they may be confronted and those who are suffering can be armed with the proper information to make correct decisions, advocate for themselves, and ultimately improve their quality of life. As an advisor to TeachAids, I have been humbled by their mission, and by the impact their products have had around the globe.
So, what does any of this have to do with SyncThink and our mission to arm clinicians and patients with objective data to support the diagnosis and treatment of common neurological disorders? As it turns out, a lot.
Improving Outcomes Requires Education
Last year, TeachAids launched CrashCourse, the first evidence-based product to educate young people about the prevention and treatment of concussions. Despite all of the hype around concussion, their research into the area provided some very interesting takeaways. For example, most young people still do not know what happens when a concussion occurs. As a result, a majority of young people do not report it, and continue playing after it occurs. Additionally, because the injury cannot be seen, as is the case with many musculoskeletal injuries, there is widespread confusion on how serious the injury actually is. Young athletes also fear that reporting an “invisible injury” will make them appear weak or not supportive of their team. In situations where concussions were correctly identified and protocols enacted, much of the current information available to these participants and their families were incorrect or outdated. And the list goes on and on.
Considering all the attention concussion has received over the past decade, these revelations are startling. While we are in the business of providing technology to support better outcomes for patients with concussions, information such as this forced us to consider the role of the patient’s (or family of the patient’s) belief system. Since day one, we have encouraged providers to assess patients as close to the time of injury as possible, in order to properly identify the resulting dysfunction so that a timely and accurate intervention can be applied. However, if the patient does not believe the injury is serious, does not report it, or believes in what outdated information has told them, they simply will not receive the care they deserve.
If we do not respond to what young people today are telling us about their experiences with concussion, we will never learn what it takes to provide more effective treatment and achieve better outcomes. End of story.
Creating Value Leveraging Virtual Reality
During the extensive ethnographic research TeachAids completed, in order to better understand the attitudes and behaviors of young people around concussion, they also learned about how this generation consumes information. When researchers asked these students to identify the most compelling ways educational information could be provided to their peers, the overwhelming majority stated, “You’ve got to put it in VR!”
While we can probably all agree that creating an immersive environment to learn more about concussion has that requisite “cool” factor, Virtual Reality itself has emerged as an evidence base delivery system to meaningfully impact the way we learn and understand new information. In an early study, VR experiences were described as a multi-sensory and emotional experience, which anchors our memories and improves retention tied to these unique experiences. Other data has suggested learning improves up to 30% more than with traditional methods.
To this effect, Virtual Reality opens the door to a host of memorable experiences in delivering effective concussion education. During CrashCourse, learners will be able to experience a concussion without the risk, and better understand the consequences of their decisions thereafter. Using modern imaging technology, learners will be able to fly into the brain and better understand what happens, specifically when a concussion occurs. Furthermore, learners will also hear from other youth athletes about their specific experiences with concussion, and how their choices affected their recovery.
Being able to port CrashCourse and make it available on our VR system is a seamless and natural way of containing both the educational and clinical workflow all in the same location, making it more interoperable and easier to implement in any organization, thus satisfying a number of required elements of concussion protocols in existence today.
Change Should Be Engaging…and FREE!
A major challenge to providing high quality education products for concussion is creating content that is engaging and encourages learning. During TeachAids research, a common theme reported by young people was that they were exposed to concussion education because they were required to in order to play sports. As a result, they were simply going through the motions, unable to retain any of the information deemed critical to their health and safety. Simultaneously, TeachAids was unable to identify a current, evidence-based product that was known for being both highly engaging and affordable. Since TeachAids products are distributed to over 82 countries worldwide, addressing these issues became a priority.
As is the case with all of TeachAids products, CrashCourse is available to any group or individual that wants to adopt it at no cost. Yes, you did read that correctly. Developed under the Creative Commons License, CrashCourse is a free educational product, and we too are committed to providing CrashCourse on our VR system at no additional cost.
To learn more about our integration for CrashCourse, and its timeline for availability on the SyncThink platform, follow us on social media.
To learn more about TeachAids, and CrashCourse, visit https://teachaids.org/for-concussions/crashcourse/