NFL turning to Apple's iPad to diagnose concussions during 2013-14 season

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On the heels of a season rife with concussion-related headlines and concerns, the National Football League next year said it plans to adopt Apple's iPad for on-field diagnoses of players' conditions immediately following big time hits and collisions.

NFL concussions will, in the future, be treated in part using an iPad app. Image via Locker Smash

The NFL will be providing each team with an iPad application designed to help teams diagnose whether one of their players has suffered concussion almost immediately following impact, ESPN reported on Saturday. League officials demonstrated the app and a new diagnosis system at the league's annual scouting combine in Indianapolis on Friday, showing how team doctors could employ the technology on the sidelines.

Prior to the start of the season, and at different intervals throughout the season, the system will be used on players to perform a number of tests in order to establish a baseline score. In the event of a possible concussion, team doctors will use the app to evaluate players, and the app will compare their post-hit results against their established baselines. A large discrepancy could indicate that the player has suffered a concussion, and the protocols for such an injury would go into effect.

Concussions stemming from America's most popular televised sport rose to a focal point during the 2012-2013 season, where more than 160 players went down with a head injury, spawning multiple lawsuits and serving as a catalyst for major reworkings of the league's rules by its Head, Neck & Spine Committee. Studies have tied concussions to long-term brain damage and lingering psychological issues, and a number of suicides by former players have largely cemented those ties in public opinion.

The NFL isn't the first organization to turn to Apple's popular tablet for health applications. The iPad is very popular among physicians worldwide, and the iPad mini may only expand that popularity. A number of physicians and medical industry observers are also very excited about the potential for apps and other technologies to transform the way medicine is practiced.