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.

confused_student

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

How Much “Strict Brain Rest” is Needed After a Concussion?

by Majid Fotuhi, M.D., Ph.D.
Founder & Chief Medical Officer, NeurExpand Brain Center
Guest Contributor

Guidelines by the American Academy of Neurology, American Academy of Pediatrics, and many sport organizations emphasize the importance of brain rest after a mild TBI. Now, a new study published in the January 5 issue of Pediatrics questions the validity of recommending 5 days of strict rest to all children who suffer a concussion.

Authors examined the difference between the outcomes of two groups of children (average age of 13-14 years old) who presented within 24 hours of a head injury to an emergency room. Half were told to rest for as long as needed, usually for 1-2 days, followed by stepwise return to the usual level of activity. The other half was told to rest for 5 days, without engaging in any school or work engagements, followed by stepwise return to activity. Participants had neurocognitive (ImPACT) and balance assessments at baseline and at their follow-up visits at 3 and 10 days. They also kept a diary of their activity level and how they felt.

In both groups, 60% of participants reported resolution of their symptoms. However, half of the “strict rest group” took 3 additional days to reach a full recovery. This strict rest group also tended to have a larger amount of emotional issues, as they were kept away from school and social settings. Children in the strict rest group who had headaches at the onset of their concussion tended to have lingering symptoms for a longer period of time than the control group. The one exception to better outcomes in the control group was for children who had immediate loss of consciousness or amnesia at the time of their injury. These children seemed to benefit from 5 days of strict brain rest.

brain-rest-bench

In general, it appears that not all children who experience a mild TBI should receive a prescription for strict 5-day brain rest. There may be benefits in treating each patient individually, depending on their initial symptoms, level of cognitive function, and severity of concussion. Some may need no rest, some may need 1-2 days of rest, and yet others may need 5 or more days of avoiding demanding brain stimulation.  More studies are needed before the current guidelines can change. The one recommendation that is gaining more support in recent years is to have patients engage in exercise early in their post-concussive period.  Increasing physical activity tends to do wonders for rehabilitation of patients who suffer from a stroke (which is a vascular brain injury) and it may be just as beneficial for kids or adults who have had a traumatic brain injury.

For now, if you have had a brain injury, please be sure to see your doctor or a sports medicine specialist who is familiar with concussion management issues. Your brain is a precious organ and it’s important to work with experts in the field  on controlling your symptoms and finding the best resolution for full recovery. Otherwise you may end up having lingering post-concussive symptoms for months, years, or decades.

SOURCE: Anderson, P. (2015, January 7). Strict Rest After Concussion Offers No Additional Benefit.

Meet Kelley

There are many brave people in the world but every once in a while you come across someone whose story is so inspiring that you are amazed by their ability to overcome adversity.

Meet Kelley, a courageous young lady who suffers from concussion. After being diagnosed, she made the decision to help educate others about the dangers of concussion and help other people realize they are not alone in their struggle. She has already spoken at schools on the topic of brain injuries, her story was featured in the summer newsletter of the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts and, now, she has agreed to be a recurring contributor to our blog by posting journal entries about her ongoing saga.

This is Kelley’s Story:

“Ten months ago I sustained my second concussion while playing volleyball on my high school varsity team. Since then I have endured ten months of often excruciating headaches and neck pain. Ten months of home tutoring to help me keep up with my schoolwork because the lights and noises of the school environment are unbearable. Ten months of solitude to wrestle with the fact I may never be able to play the sport I love again. In all of those ten months confined to my home, I am yet to hear any encouraging words from my peers. It made the isolation worse and even harder to deal with. I wondered if other people had a similar story? Was there anyone else out there who is going through, or has gone through, this struggle with this kind of a traumatic brain injury? If I had someone else that was going through the same thing, I think it would be easier to deal with all of the changes in my life that I had no control over. I hope by contributing to this blog, I can encourage others. I hope people who are suffering through this injury know they are not alone, and that there are people who truly understand what they are going through. I also desire that people would read my stories and have a new compassion and understanding for those that they encounter who have been impacted by this silent brain injury.”

New Survey Shows Youth, Parents & Coaches Need More Education About Preventable Injuries

This week marks National Safe Kids Week, an annual public education event started by Safe Kids Worldwide to help understand and prevent childhood injuries. A national survey sponsored by the organization and corporate giant Johnson & Johnson provides a revealing look at misperceptions in the world of youth sports.

The results of Coaching Our Kids to Fewer Injuries: A Report on Youth Sports Safety show parents and coaches are naïve to serious conditions like overuse injuries, dehydration and concussions.

Some results of the survey:

• 1 in 3 children who play team sports are injured seriously enough to miss practices or games, and some suffer lifelong consequences

• 90 percent of parents underestimate the length of break children should take from playing a sport during the year to protect them from overuse and burnout. According to The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), children should take a couple of months, or one season, away from a specific sport each year. Young athletes should also take at least a day off each week from organized activity.

• More than half of all coaches believe there is an acceptable amount of head contact during play, without potentially causing a serious brain injury. The fact remains the degree of impacts are difficult to determine until properly evaluated by a medical professional.

• Almost 50 percent of all coaches indicated they have felt pressure from parents or the athletes, themselves, to keep an injured child in a game.

• 30 percent of children think talented players should keep playing even when they’re hurt, unless a coach or adult makes them stop.

• Three-quarters of coaches report they would like additional training on preventing concussions.

Kate Carr, President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide says, “Culturally, there’s an attitude that injuries are a natural consequence of sports and that good athletes tough it out when they suffer an injury. But that attitude is hurting our kids.”

The survey was conducted online in February and March 2012, collecting data from 516 children aged 8 to 18 who played a variety of sports, as well as from 750 parents and 752 coaches.