Concussion: School Re-Entry Strategies for School-Age Kids
More than 140,000 children present to emergency departments each year with concussions. Of those, approximately 30 percent are sports-related, but the majority occur as a result of accidents, such as falls from bikes or skateboards or motor-vehicle accidents.
Children who suffer a concussion are plagued with many of the same symptoms as adults with head injuries, including:
- Memory loss
- Organizational difficulties
- Trouble “finding the right words”
- Light and noise sensitivity
Unfortunately, these symptoms can make it difficult for children to readjust to the often over-stimulating school environment – think crowded hallways, noisy cafeterias and frenzied gymnasiums. Concussion symptoms also can have a significant impact on learning and school performance. Therefore, children who suffer a concussion should not return to school until they are cleared to do so by their treating physicians.
Once cleared to return to school, try these tips to ease re-entry:
- Start slowly. Try attending school two, half days a week. Increase attendance as fatigue levels allow.
- Rest frequently. Take a break from the classroom and find a quiet place to rest your eyes and brain.
- Do not participate in physical education or after-school recreation until receiving the go-ahead from your doctor.
- Contact the local BrainSTEPS team for assistance returning to school.
If cognitive deficits (problems with memory) are still present after returning to school, try these strategies:
- Write all assignments, tests and projects in a daily planner (traditional or electronic).
- Ask for online versions of books or a second set of books to keep at home. Transporting books back and forth expends a lot of energy. Forgetting to bring books home also may be a problem.
- Ask the teacher for outlines of class lectures or copies of lesson plans.
- Ask for additional time to take exams and decreased homework.
Physical, occupational and speech therapists with expertise in the treatment of pediatric concussion can help alleviate concussion symptoms as well as help facilitate school re-entry.