The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports thousands of school-age children sustain concussions each year while playing at school. Those serious head injuries occur as students engage in physical education classes, participate in sports, or enjoy other school-sponsored activities.
While many students are likely to achieve a full recovery following a minor concussion, each may face struggles during the recovery process. Depending on the severity of the concussion, an injured child could experience learning problems he or she did not have prior to sustaining a concussion.
Fortunately, school administrators and fellow students can aid in a child’s reacclimation following a concussion on school grounds. Administrators and others at the school must understand what a concussion is and recognize common causes of concussions on school grounds. They should also know what to look for after a concussion, and learn what they can do to lend their support to injured children.
What is a Concussion?
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury generally caused by a bump, impact or blow to the head. A sudden jolt may also cause trauma to the head resulting in a concussion. Concussions occur when the force of impact is strong enough to cause a person’s head, and thus his or her brain, to move rapidly back and forth. Concussions can be either mild or severe, yet both can lead to brain cells sustaining permanent damage or chemical changes occurring in the brain.
Common Causes of Concussions at School
As the saying goes, “Kids will be kids.” They like to run around, play tag, climb on the monkey bars, play sports and engage in other fun activities in between the classroom learning they do at school. It is during these times in which most injuries at school take place. Some of the most common causes of concussions at school are:
- Falls: These can occur when a child falls off the monkey bars, is running or walking around the school grounds and trips and falls, or is pushed, run into or knocked over by another child.
- Person-to-person impact: In sports-related activity, the potential for person-to-person impact collisions can be extremely high, particularly when kids are playing soccer, football or other contact sports. When two heads collide it can cause a significant injury. Even when a person-to-person collision results in one of the people being struck by or into another object, the injured caused can be quite severe.
- Vehicle-related accidents: Many students take the bus to and from school, as well as on school-sponsored field trips. If an accident occurs, a child could be thrown forward in his or her seat, collide with the window or side of the bus, or sustain other serious injuries and head trauma.
How Students and Schools Should Respond to Students with Concussions
Schools, administrators and other students in and around Eastern NC need to be aware of the struggles those recovering from concussions injuries may face. According to CBS News, concussions can lead to learning difficulties and behavioral problems at school. You have to remember, a concussion is a traumatic brain injury. As the brain is how we learn and retain information, an injury can affect a child’s grades, learning ability, schoolwork and test results. Recovery must be gradual so as not to cause further damage.
Tips for Recovery from Concussions
If you have a student at your school or in your class who has suffered a concussion, make sure you and all of those likely to come in contact with the student understand how to respond to an individual with a concussion. The following are tips which educators can use to help aid in a concussion victim’s recovery:
- Require at least a few days rest and physician-approval before allowing a student to return to school following a minor concussion.
- Be willing to make adjustments with either a child’s school work load or time spent in class daily.
- In cases where the victim of a concussion begins to experience a headache, dizziness, fatigue, memory problems or brain fog, he or she should take a break.
- Do not allow a concussion victim to participate in sports or activities in which another blow to the head may be likely to occur.
- Arrange for the child to receive periodic monitoring by the school nurse.
- Make sure teachers are quick to share observations made as to any changes or potential worsening of symptoms with parents.
Recovery from a concussion takes time. Try to rush it and a child could suffer permanent, long-term damage. Time, understanding and compassion can do a lot more for a child’s recovery than trying to get the child to go right back into “normal activities.”
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Returning to School After a Concussion: A Fact Sheet for School Professionals
- CBS News: Kids’ concussions cause problems at school