Putting an athlete with a concussion back into the game too early can have deadly consequences. The Concussion Toolbox, an app created by Michael Cinelli and David Inglis, will help trainers, parents and coaches recognize when athletes should be removed from play and seek a trained professional’s assessment.
Cinelli and Inglis, who conceived the app from their research at Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) and built it at the Communitech Apps Factory, know the devastating effect of concussions after having seen friends’ hockey careers shattered. They hope their app can help athletes recognize when they have concussions, minimizing the risk of returning to play prematurely, which can lead to serious injuries that end careers and ruin lives.
Like many entrepreneurs, Cinelli developed the foundation for what would become the Concussion Toolbox out of frustration that it didn’t already exist. Unsatisfied by the subjective nature of existing technology to measure concussion symptoms, Cinelli and Inglis saw a need for a more scientific and objective tool.
Concussions are a hot-topic after high-profile athletes as the NHL’s Sidney Crosby and Olympic diver Alexandre Despatie suffered them. Cinelli and Inglis knew they had a timely idea, but needed help translating lab research into a portable and reliable test.
By chance, Cinelli saw a news report about the Apps Factory one night, and decided to approach Communitech for help with building a prototype.
The project was not based on a typical client and producer relationship, but a collaborative process that deeply involved Cinelli and Inglis to ensure their lab data was coded into a meaningful platform.
Inglis, who had desk space in the Partners Area of the Communitech Hub for this project, was able to work closely with the Apps Factory team.
”They were great to work with,” Inglis says. “Having these resources are vital” in helping researchers develop a usable test model. While they were working with the AppsFactory, the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) awarded $25,000 to Cinelli and Inglis to support their research and business plan through the Discovery12 Experiential Learning Program Competition.
“The community here at Communitech is what really helped me achieve my objective and my OCE funding success. Without the high quality feedback I’ve been receiving on my new venture, pitch, and overall business I would not have been nearly as prepared for OCE opportunity,” says Inglis.
Cinelli and Inglis will be in the field testing the Concussion Toolbox with athletes at several high schools and universities, including WLU, beginning this fall. Cinelli and Inglis are also working with the Waterloo county rugby team
“I didn’t think any of my research would ever be marketable,” Cinelli said. “I [just] wanted something to use that was better than what we had.”