Student-Athletes with a concussion often have difficulty with processing speed, memory, comprehension, and reaction time. These cognitive difficulties are often associated with physical symptoms such as headaches and dizziness, sleep problems and emotional symptoms such as anxiety and depression.
A student needs to be healthy to learn. A concussion can affect a student physically, cognitively and emotionally; therefore affecting their ability to learn and perform academically. The inability to function in school can be temporary, lasting a couple of weeks, or prolonged, lasting for months to years.
Educators are encouraged to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a concussion, and more importantly, be able to notice any abnormal behaviors in classroom behavior and performance.
Cognitive rest is the first step to recovery from a concussion. During the first 3-4 days post-injury, it is critical that the brain is able to rest. Similar to resting the ankle by using crutches when someone sprains their ankle, the brain needs to be at rest. The goal of cognitive rest is to keep cognitive activity below the level that triggers symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, or fatigue. Sometimes that means students need to miss school, no reading, no math, no video games, no texting, and no computer time.
Parents, teachers, and the Medical Doctor should agree when will it be beneficial for a concussed student to return to school. One option is to start out half-days where the student will go to school either the early half of school or the latter half of school. A general guideline to determine when a concussed student should return to school is:
» If the student is able to concentrate doing light cognitive activity like reading or doing homework for 30 minutes, they may be ready to return to school.
» At the end of the school day, a parent, athletic trainer, or counselor should evaluate how the student's first day went so that adjustments may be made as soon as possible.
For most concussion cases, the student-athlete will need school adjustments for a short period – usually for a couple of weeks. Adjustments are modifications in school that can be done immediately and for a short period of time. Some adjustments that may be implemented are:
Accommodations are a formal modification of the student's academic curriculum, schedule and plan. Concussed student-athletes may require accommodations if experiencing prolonged recovery. With the consultation from a MD and the school's academic team, additional accommodations may be implemented.