Concussion is a real ‘buzzword’ these days. Sports-related concussion is caused by biomechanical forces that causes chemical changes in the brain (the head and brain being moved quickly back and forth. Examples include when two players collide or when a cheerleader falls from the top of a human pyramid). There may be no loss of consciousness.
Do you know the symptoms of concussion?
Download the student concussion brochure for a list of symptoms. The State TBI Advisory Board’s Concussion Task Force has developed a toolkit to help students and teachers with the process of returning to school and play.
The human brain is still a mystery in many ways and the research is complicated by the fact that every human brain is unique. Most concussions will resolve in 10-30 days if the brain is not injured again in the healing phase.
How does the brain heal?
Cognitive and physical rest is important to allow the brain to heal. During that time a student can follow the guidelines on how to return to learn in the toolkit.
Activities that involve learning and concentration may cause concussion symptoms (inability to pay attention or learn new information, fatigue, or headaches) to reappear or get worse. Current studies indicate that light physical activity that doesn’t bring on symptoms is good in the healing process.
When may an athlete return to play?
Once the student is able to sustain school full time with minimal accommodations they can start the return to play process. Each student will have a unique healing process. School nurses are a good resource for the individual with a concussion.
In Sarah’s Story, Sarah wants everyone to know that concussions can affect kids and teens in the classroom and that athletes returning to school after a concussion may need to:
- Take rest breaks as needed,
- Spend fewer hours at school,
- Be given more time to take tests or complete assignments,
- Receive help with schoolwork, and/or
- Spend less time on the computer, reading, or writing.
As a student’s symptoms decrease, the extra help or support can be gradually removed.
In order to avoid potential long term issues, students need to recognize when they may have a concussion and inform parents and the school so they can get the help needed for their brains to heal as quickly as possible.
Barbara Winters is the Outreach and Education Coordinator for the Brain Injury Association of Vermont (BIAVT) and has worked in the brain injury field for over 18 years.