Kyle Wellwood undoubtedly witnessed a lot of concussions during his hockey career. That’s probably why in retirement, he persuaded his brother Eric to sink their teeth into a Vancouver-based company who has created an app for concussion testing.
HeadCheck Health CEO Harrison Brown noticed the same lack of care when he was an athlete with Hong Kong’s National U20 rugby team.
When creating the app Brown asked himself, “Is there a way that I can prevent that from happening for other people?”
The former University of British Columbia student has launched an app that does multiple tests for concussions. Any team that purchases the app can set up individual profiles for each athlete. After that, they can do baseline testing for different types of concussions.
Access Across Sports
Brown notes that there are eight different kinds of testing for concussions since not all concussions are the same.
“You might have one person who gets hit and has a crazy headache. You might take another person in and they feel fine, but whenever they stand up they start getting dizzy.”
There seems to be a lack of standardized concussion testing through apps, at all levels in sports. Paper-based testing still seems to be the norm, even in our tech-fueled world. Brown sees an opportunity to benefit all athletes with this new app.
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— HeadCheck Health (@HeadCheckHealth) February 21, 2017
Athletes and teams across all sports have shown interest in this new app that was just launched in the summer of 2016. The University of British Columbia, and UBC Okanagan have their varsity sports teams on board with the app. That means aside from hockey and football, softball, field hockey, and wrestling teams also use the app.
Brown has even received interest from cheerleading teams. In total, about 60 different sports teams are currently using the app. Not bad considering the app hasn’t existed for more than a year.
“For us, we want to be adaptable across all sports,” said Brown. “It’s not just a tool for hockey or football.”
— HeadCheck Health (@HeadCheckHealth) February 20, 2017
HeadCheck Health makes their app accessible to any sports team at any level. Instead of pricing out minor league teams, the app is affordable for any team that shows interest in protecting their own players.
“One way to do it would be to go and have a high price point, he said. “But for us, we’re totally okay to sell at a lower price point if it means getting more people on the platform.”
“If we are able to show enough impact in enough people, the revenues will eventually follow.”
Cracking the Big Leagues
HeadCheck Health does have some teams in the Western Hockey League using the app. Other teams in the Ontario Hockey League are also showing interest for next season.
Brown said that there has been interest from pro teams in the major leagues across all sports. However, there are more hurdles to jump through before this app can become a standard for concussion testing.
With help from the Wellwood brothers, that may turn into a reality sooner than expected. Wellwood originally saw Brown present at the Vancouver Economic Forum. He then got in touch with him, and decided to throw both his money and support behind the company.
Kyle Wellwood was a former player for three different Canadian teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, and the Winnipeg Jets. He also played briefly for the San Jose Sharks. The playmaking centre registered 235 points in 489 career games.
His brother, Eric Wellwood was a prospect in the Philadelphia Flyers system who played 31 career games. He retired at age 24 after suffering a severe cut to his Achilles tendon that nearly took his life. Although it wasn’t a concussion, it’s a scary reminder just how quickly an injury in sport can change your life.
Now, they can assist HeadCheck Health in the fight to get this app some more recognition in the mainstream. This seems like an app that pro leagues surely could use. Whether the likes of Gary Bettman and other commissioners are ready to throw their support behind concussion testing and research is another story.
“Kyle and Eric have been fundamental in connecting us with people in those communities,” said Brown. With their support, maybe we see HeadCheck Health change the game for concussions in pro sports, sometime in the near future.