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Concussions in the classroom

by BRIANNA SICILIANO Photo/Video Editor

Athletes with concussions are temporarily excused from participating in activities, and are carefully observed by their coaches and teammates. However, these athletes should not be treated any differently in the school setting.

When children break their arm, you do not ask them to drop and give you 20 push-ups. Yet when children suffer from concussions, they are expected to return to school and be able to concentrate while completing all of their assignments, straining their already injured brain.

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head due to a fall or another injury that shakes the brain inside the skull. Although there may be cuts or bruises on the head or face, there may be no other visible signs of a brain injury.

A person does not have to pass out (lose consciousness) to have a concussion. Some people will have obvious symptoms, such as passing out or forgetting what happened right before the injury, but others will not. With plenty of rest, most people fully recover from a concussion. Some people recover within a few hours, while others take a few weeks to recover.

“My friend was out of school for a concussion for two months because of how serious her symptoms turned out to be. Although a person may not observe their symptoms right away, they should probably get checked out and talk to their doctor about how they are feeling,” says junior Alexandra Uhrig.

After a concussion, rest is critical to help the brain heal. During this time, activities that involve learning and concentration, which are commonly used in the classroom, can cause symptoms to escalate. Some escalated symptoms, such as inability to pay attention, fatigue or headaches, can cause major setbacks for recovery time.

Although students may appear to be physically normal after having a concussion, they may actually have trouble learning new information and retaining it. Going back to school may make these symptoms worse, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in their new report presented at the AAP National Conference & Exhibition in Orlando.

“Research shows that it takes about three weeks for a child to fully recover from a concussion. If their symptoms are especially severe, they should stay home from school. Even though children with concussions may appear [to feel no symptoms], they often report difficulty focusing on schoolwork and taking tests, especially in math, science, and foreign-languages. Medical experts are worried that too much learning stimulation can overwhelm a brain that is still recovering, and make it even more difficult for a child to get back on track,” says the AAP.

Schools can offer an easy way to help accommodate their students’ needs. The injured student can have scheduled rests in the school nurse’s office, which will help dizziness as well. Allowing extra time for the student to go from class-to-class through the crowed hallways will help with severe headaches. For light sensitivity, sunglasses should be worn indoors.

“When I was suffering my concussion, my head was constantly hurting. A break between classes would have been nice, just so I could relax for a few minutes,” says junior Hiral Patel.

Do you think schools should have more focus on students who are injured with a concussion? Should these students have special treatments during school hours?

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