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Spotlight on Walden // Nov 21, 2014

Empowering Parents on the Sideline

It’s a common scene in sports: Two athletes collide on the field, smashing helmets. Whenever an athlete hits his or her head, it should be a concern, says Eric Luster, a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) student at Walden University, since untreated or undiagnosed concussions can lead to dizziness, impaired vision, confusion, and even depression and memory loss.

Athletes are naturally prone to head injuries: An estimated 1.6 million to 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries occur each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And often, the injury is overlooked: A 2013 study from the National Academy of Sciences found that high school athletes had a “culture of resistance” to reporting concussions and following treatment plans.

“If we can identify injuries to the brain as early as possible, we can make staying active safer for our youth,” Luster explains, which is why he is developing a hardware sensor that athletes can wear on their heads or helmets that sends information to their parents’ phones, tracking and reporting real-time data about their on-field experiences.

To develop the tool, Luster and his team at his company, Movement Interactive, conducted more than 250 interviews with parents to discover what players were experiencing and learn how to capture data from sports such as football, lacrosse, soccer, and cheerleading. “The players and parents are heavily involved in the design process,” Luster explains. “Our product is human-centered design.”

Luster has announced a Kickstarter campaign that will start on Jan. 6, 2015, and will allow funders to buy the sensor, which will ship in the second quarter of 2015. “The goal is to give parents a tailored product that will allow them to take action on behalf of their children,” he shares.

This action can take on various forms, including opening a dialogue between athletes and their parents and between parents and coaches. Inspired by his son and his son’s teammates, Luster hopes the sensor can help adults put the needs of young athletes first, ahead of a win-at-all-costs mentality.

Luster’s work at Walden is shaping how he develops and markets the product. “The DBA program aligns well with my professional goals,” Luster says. “It allows me to work in the field and apply my knowledge in real time. My doctoral study will provide me with the tools required to answer several research questions and, ultimately, to effect positive social change by releasing this and other products through Movement Interactive.”

Credit: Barbara Kinney / Clinton Global Initiative
The Colbert Show at CGI University 2013
COPYRIGHT: Clinton Global Initiative