June 14, 2012

VU’s new CoachSmart app includes heat index, lightning alerts and more

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VU’s new CoachSmart app includes heat index, lightning alerts and more

*CoachSmart is not currently available for download; a new version will be released this fall.

A new smartphone application for coaches puts an athletic trainer, a personal assistant and a meteorologist all in the palm of their hand.

The free iPhone and Android app, called CoachSmart, is the ultimate resource for coaches, offering real-time information on heat index and lightning strikes, frequently asked sports medicine and safety questions, and a group contact feature.

A collaboration between Vanderbilt Sports Medicine, the Medical Center's Strategic Marketing Department and the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, the app is an extension of Vanderbilt Sports Medicine’s expertise.

“We have Vanderbilt athletic trainers stationed at 27 high schools in Davidson and Williamson counties, but we wanted a way to reach sports teams where we do not provide care, such as youth leagues and schools in other counties,” said Alex Diamond, D.O., assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation.

“We wanted to create a resource for coaches that would enable them to address safety concerns even if a certified athletic trainer was not on site.”

CoachSmart features:

• The Home screen gives current temperature, humidity, heat index and lightning strike information.

• The Map screen is based on the user’s GPS location. One map shows lightning strikes within 25 miles, while another uses information from nearby weather stations to post current conditions, including heat index and wind chill.

• The Contacts function allows the user to compile team members’ contact info and send a message to the entire team with the touch of a button.

• The Resources section includes information that athletic trainers commonly dispense, such as hydration tips, injury prevention, concussion guidelines and when to go to the emergency room. The resources will be continuously updated as more information is needed or guidelines change.

In a survey of local coaches during the development of the app, the most requested feature was a lightning warning. If lightning strikes nearby, the app sends an alert to the phone and the resource section provides information on what to do.

“Our coaches said they could feel when it was too hot to play, but they were concerned with severe weather, specifically lightning. Lightning can strike without warning, and that is one of their biggest fears,” said Mitch Bellamy, ATC, assistant director of Sports Medicine.

CoachSmart has included the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) heat index guidelines.

“Even though the app lists TSSAA rules, all the information is based on the phone’s current location and can be used by anyone, anywhere. Heat index changes mile-to-mile and lightning can strike with no warning, so it’s important to have that exact information,” Bellamy said.

“We’ve targeted coaches with this app, but it is a great tool for anyone involved in outdoor activities — fishing, camping, cycling, golf. It’s our way of helping keep everyone safe outside.”