Research Shows Students’ Academics Affected by Concussions

A recent study published in American Academy of Pediatrics June 2015 Pediatrics (published online on May 11, 2015) looked at concussion and its effect on academic performance. The research included a sample of 349 students, ages 5 to 18, who sustained a concussion and whose parents reported post-injury academic concerns on school questionnaires. The type and intensity of the students’ concussion symptoms were measured as an indicator of the severity of their injury.

Researchers found that actively symptomatic students and their parents had heightened concerns over the effects of the students’ concussions on their school performance, as well as increased school-related problems than their recovered peers. In other words, the students’ level of post-concussion symptoms had a direct relationship to the extent of academic effects.

Eighty-eight percent of students with symptoms reported school problems due to headaches, fatigue and concentration issues, while 77 percent reported issues such as needing to spend more time on homework, difficulty taking notes, and studying.

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Additionally, high school students in the study who had not yet recovered reported significantly more adverse academic effects than their younger counterparts. The greater the severity of their concussion symptoms was also associated with more school-related problems and worse academic effects, regardless of time since injury.

Every state has concussion legislation generally requiring three basic criteria in the event of a concussion:

  • The removal of a child from play
  • A structured return to learn
  • Clearance from a concussion specialist

However, most youth aren’t athletic professionals and many of them do not advance to participate in college and professional athletics. Currently, only Nebraska and Virginia have return-to-learn legislation indicating that concussed athletes may need specific informal or formal accommodations at school and that school personnel should be trained in concussions. In light of students’ limited number of years of sports and because of recent proven research, legislation should be in place in every state to provide more extensive accommodations after a brain injury so that students’ academics are not adversely affected.

To review each state’s legislation, please visit:
http://lawatlas.org/query?dataset=sc-reboot
http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/traumatic-brain-injury-legislation.aspx

Giving Thanks for our Team, Plus Many Schools Lack in Return-to-Learn Guidelines

by Tony Doran, Psy.D.
HeadFirst Concussion Care Program Director

If this is your first time looking at our blog or visiting the HeadFirst website, we are one of the premier community-based concussion clinics in the country that provides education, evaluation, and treatment of traumatic brain injuries for children and adults ages 2 and up.

Our overall staff commitment to excellence is reflected in the teamwork and service to HeadFirst patients and their families.

Headfirst has seen thousands and thousands of patients this year, has conducted community outreach events with more than 180,000 attendees, provided thousands more ImPACT® concussion baseline tests, and is submitting our fifth research project for publication.

What we do in HeadFirst doesn’t happen by magic….

Providing care to this many patients requires an effort of our entire team: from the support of CEO Dr. Robert G. Graw, Jr., and Senior Medical Officers Dr. Stanford Coleman and Dr. Marc Weber, to Chief Creative Officer and Program Advisor Amy Knappen, to Director of Clinical Services and Training Lauren Burkhead, FNP, to all the medical providers and staff in our clinics. The collective effort of our entire team has lea HeadFirst Sports Injury and Concussion Care to experience tremendous success over the past year.

At this time of the year of giving thanks, I am truly blessed and thankful that I work with such a wonderful team of dedicated and motivated professionals.

I recently received this article from a fellow professional that highlights the widely varying policies of school preparedness for dealing with concussions.

The study was conducted at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and surveyed 695 public high school principals about their knowledge of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). The findings highlight both good news as well as some opportunities for improvement.

For example:

  • Less than half of those surveyed had taken a concussion management training course
  • About a third of schools provide families with written plans
  • Less than a quarter provide potential academic accommodations to students
  • 80% had case managers assigned to students with concussions, who are usually a school nurse or athletic trainer
  • 86% could identify someone at their school who communicates with students’ health care providers after a concussion in an athlete, while only 79% could make that same identification if the injured student was a non-athlete

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Researchers also noted that preparedness plans shouldn’t concentrate only on school athletes. There is often a greater awareness of return-to-play guidelines than return-to-learn, although students should return to academics before returning to sports. Researchers felt that these findings highlight the need for guidelines governing return to academics.

It should be noted that, presently, only Nebraska and Virginia have return-to-learn laws in place, while all 50 states have return-to-play laws.

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Parents need to be their child’s best advocate and ensure that they get accommodations from their doctor for continued school success.  mTBI is the only injury that affects a child’s ability to continue to be successful at school. This injury requires the collective effort of those working closely with the child to be in constant communication, which include the parents, nurse, teachers, and health care providers treating the child’s mTBI.