Kids, concussions and classrooms

By Laura Mize • Published: January 13th, 2014
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

You wouldn’t send your child out to play sports right after a concussion, and that’s a good thing. Protecting the brain from further injury while it’s healing is key.

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics says parents should think twice before letting kids return to the classroom, too.

The brain is a sensitive organ and it turns out normal stimulation — not just physical activity — can impede its healing, at least for a while. The authors of the journal article recommend schools, parents and health care providers work together to develop a plan for each child following a concussion.

The first step they recommend is to use a checklist to record and evaluate symptoms. Memory problems, light and noise sensitivity, abnormal moods and trouble sleeping are common post-concussion symptoms. Be sure to account for pre-existing issues, such as learning disabilities and regular headaches, too.

The authors say parents should initially keep kids away from too much mental stimulation, such as T-V and cell phones. They can make symptoms recur or worsen. Then, begin to gradually increase stimulation, while evaluating symptoms. They should decrease over time. The researchers say when your child can reasonably bear the concussion symptoms for 30- to 45-minute stretches, consider sending him back to school.

Easing back into school is important. Taking breaks from learning and interaction is normal and helpful. The school nurse should regularly monitor the child, and teachers may need to reduce a student’s workload. At this point, kids should still refrain from physical activities.

If symptoms return or get worse after your child goes back to school, he may not be ready. More time at home should do the trick.