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March 12, 2012

Back to School after a Concussion: Know Your ABCs

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a concussion as a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. Although healthcare professionals may describe concussions as “mild” brain injuries, the CDC warns us that the effects can be serious.

Young brains may be more susceptible to chemical changes that occur after a concussion. That’s why it’s important that not only parents, but also school professionals are informed of the effects that the injury can take on students.

The CDC has put together a fact sheet providing steps that school professionals can take to help a student when they return to school.

Below are some key points from the fact sheet:

  • A student’s return to school after a concussion should first be approved by a healthcare provider experienced in evaluating concussions.
  • A team approach is recommended to get the student back into a normal routine. Involvement should come from parents, coaches, doctors, teachers, principals, school nurses and counselors.
  • Open communication is critical between school staff, parents, and doctors. Teachers should work with the family to develop appropriate timelines and plans to meet the student’s needs. Ongoing adjustments should be made as the student recovers.
  • Teachers need to understand the challenges that concussion victims will face in the classroom. A student may be challenged to read at a normal speed or complete math problems. They may be easily distracted. Physical symptoms can include headache, fatigue, or increased sensitivity to classroom lights or cafeteria noise. Emotionally, the student can become more easily irritated, agitated, or overwhelmed by their learning challenges.
  • For perhaps the only time in a student’s life, studying might best be pushed aside until symptoms improve. Rest is critical for the student’s brain to recover. The brain is best able to repair itself when there is more energy available to do so.

This month, Slater Vecchio supports Brain Injury Awareness Month. Visit the Brain Injury Association of America’s website to learn more.

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Author - Tony Vecchio, QC

Anthony (Tony) Vecchio, QC, founded Slater Vecchio in January 1998. He has been counsel on some of the largest cases in British Columbia.