VR Program to Help Teach Young Athletes About Concussions

The youth sports advocacy group has partnered with the educational nonprofit TeachAids to share its CrashCourse software curriculum with athletes, parents, coaches and administrators in NCYS programs nationwide.

Closeup of a person wearing a virtual reality headset.
After a year of disruptions to school operations — of virtual classrooms and other adaptations that proved the ability of technology to reach people where they live — the nation’s largest youth sports advocate is taking a tech-driven approach to concussion education. The National Council of Youth Sports (NCYS) announced this week that it’s partnering with the educational nonprofit TeachAids to reach more people with CrashCourse, a series of free interactive videos and virtual reality programs about the science of concussions.

According to a news release, NCYS has set a goal of reaching 1 million people with CrashCourse by 2024, including coach and administrator training, implementing background screenings, and teaching parents to recognize abuse. NCYS’ website says more than 2.5 million young people a year in the U.S. suffer a concussion, and NCYS member organizations serve about 60 million participants in organized youth sports, including key decision-makers and advocates.

“NCYS member organizations are the first experience most youth have in organized sport. It is imperative that all stakeholders — parents, coaches and administrators — totally commit to making the experience an enjoyable one,” said NCYS board chair Adam Andrasko in a public statement. “Ensuring the safest environment for our youth is the most important role sports administrators play. NCYS and CrashCourse are proud to partner and provide what we believe to be the gold standard in concussion education.”

First launched in September 2018 after two years of research, six months of production and thousands of hours of user testing, CrashCourse is accessible online as standard video or virtual reality modules. The nonprofit’s website mentions expert interviews, a VR “fly-through” of the human brain using technology from Stanford University’s Neurosurgical Simulation and Virtual Reality Center, and an interactive database of more than 700 personal stories.

TeachAids spun out of Standford University in 2009, with the goal of using technology to counter ignorance or misconceptions about health issues likely to affect young people. To date this has included HIV/AIDS, concussions, and more recently COVID-19.