While the number of youth participating in organized sports continues to grow, we continue to be in a severe need of professional athletic trainers that can offer the support, guidance, and safety measures that every sport needs. This shortage of athletic trainers and trained medical personnel in sports environments is especially exacerbated in rural areas, in which many people live far away from hospitals and where medical professionals find it hard to reach. One of our group members was injured playing a sport and misdiagnosed the injury. There were no professionals around to help as it was a practice. Luckily, it did not turn out to be a major injury but the inability to diagnose it effectively cost the functionality of their arm for 2 full weeks! This inspired us to see what we could do as there were no quick apps to diagnose sports focused injuries and provide a treatment and solutions as we incorporated into Sports MAN.

In fact, 90% of youth athletes get injured at some point while playing sports, accounting for greater than 3,500,000 doctor visits. According to the CDC, over half of these injuries are easily preventable, however, many do not take the necessary precautions and often underestimate the severity of their injuries, which can be a major problem especially for the youth without access to medical professionals, leading to lifelong issues.

During our research we discovered that a common treatment for these sports injuries were opioid painkillers, which led to an increase in the opioid epidemic. This information inspired us to incorporate solutions and treatments for these injuries and prevention plans that are free of medications.

Our solution

Sports MAN (Medical Assistance Needed) is specifically designed to help those in need of urgent medical care in the immediate event of a sports injury. We have designed an interactive app that allows users to efficiently select the symptoms they are facing and receive a diagnosis. With this probable diagnosis comes treatment options and basic information about the condition to help the user determine what to do to alleviate pain and symptoms in the short term. It’s important to remember that our app is not a substitute for a healthcare professional- rather, it seeks to give immediate advice and feedback to those experiencing an acute injury. In addition to this portion of our app, we have also designed an interactive exercise interface in which the user can choose repetitions and sets of certain exercises and be timed while doing them. This section also includes a list of helpful stretching videos to warm up, cool down, or assist in the healing process of an injury.

What it does

Sports MAN is expertly configured to help the user in their time of most need. The user simply answers a series of multiple-choice questions regarding the area they are experiencing pain and the symptoms they are facing. These answers are stored internally and the questions get more specific and personalized until a potential match for the injury is found. The user then gets a potential diagnosis that is accompanied by basic information on the condition, treatment options, and a small diagram. In our “workout” section, the user is prompted with a variety of different exercises to choose from and the duration they would like to exercise. The user is then timed as they begin to perform their exercise routine that will help them stay fit and healthy. In our “stretches” section, the user is asked three questions and based on those they are then recommended short videos that demonstrate the stretches with a voice guide so the user can easily replicate them.

How we built it

To build Sports MAN, we used MIT App Inventor software on our computers to code. We created a simple and intuitive user interface consisting of a screen for each separate section of the app (eg. head injuries, exercise, etc.). We were able to set options as visible or hidden so that different questions, diagnoses, etc could be seen to the user based on what they selected. All the session data is stored in Tiny Database (DB) including but not limited to the answers to the multiple-choice questions. It is used to navigate the various pathways that all lead to different diagnoses.

Challenges we ran into

The maximum screen limit on MIT App Inventor was 10, so we had to appropriately organize and budget all of our questions, answers, conditions, etc. onto each of the screens. This was a challenge because we had a lot of information to include on each screen and we struggled with learning how to effectively organize the information across all the screens without it being any overload of information. However, we overcame this issue by using Tiny DB to store the user inputs and changing the visibility of each piece of information.

Another challenge we faced were the large amount of possible sports injuries. We had to thoroughly research the most prominent and tailor our questions to diagnose them accurately.

What we learned

When making our app we learned how to use the MIT App Inventor, but also about the issues faced by many athletes and how we could modify our app to become the best solution to this problem. Through our research we discovered the complexity of the issue and what can be done to help prevent or solve it, such as how the usage of opioid medication led to addiction and another crisis. This allowed us the insight we needed to be able to create a comprehensive app to tackle multiple aspects of the issue.

What's next for Sports MAN

Sports MAN is an app that can help many athletes practice safely and remotely. With the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, going to the hospital for a non-fatal condition is a huge risk, and even in normal times is quite expensive. If athletes are able to use our app for a quick diagnosis, they can altogether prevent an unnecessary trip or know if it is required.

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