Before she joined the study, Butler said that her doctor would “tell her what to do, and then I would go home and lay in bed.”
The app puts the user in the role of superhero – battling villainous symptoms like dizziness or headaches. Users can complete quests — like drinking more water or taking a walk — to build their power.
Each user’s personal recovery story can be shared with friends and family, adding a community aspect popular with many smartphone apps.
“I was really surprised with the results,” lead study author Lise Worthen-Chaudhari said. “Simply being able to use phones really changed optimism. The group that didn’t use the app was flat in optimism, they started out slightly pessimistic and stayed slightly pessimistic.”
All of the 19 teenagers who participated in the study had concussion symptoms that had persisted for more than three weeks and “were starting to get frustrated,” Worthen-Chaudhari said.
For the study, the Cincinnati Children’s physician treating the participants determined it would be safe for them to use their phones for 10 minutes a day, giving them enough time to check in on the app and reap its apparent benefits.
“(The app) helped me understand (my symptoms) more so that I wasn’t getting as frustrated with myself,” Butler said. “Before I didn’t understand why I wasn’t getting better, but using the app made helped me take control.”