Recent research has made it clear that a concussion can have a significant impact on a student’s cognitive and physical abilities. In fact, research shows that activities that require concentration can actually cause a student’s concussion symptoms to reappear or worsen. It is equally important to help students as they “return to learn” in the classroom as it is to help them “return to physical activity”. Without identification and proper management, a concussion can result in permanent brain damage and in rare occasions, even death.
Research also suggests that a child or youth who suffers a second concussion before he or she is symptom free from the first concussion is susceptible to a prolonged period of recovery, and possibly Second Impact Syndrome – a rare condition that causes rapid and severe brain swelling and often catastrophic results.
Educators and school staff play a crucial role in the identification of a suspected concussion as well as the ongoing monitoring and management of a student with a concussion. Awareness of the signs and symptoms of concussion and knowledge of how to properly manage a diagnosed concussion is critical in a student’s recovery and is essential in helping to prevent the student from returning to learning or physical activities too soon and risking further complications. Ultimately, this awareness and knowledge could help contribute to the student’s long-term health and academic success.
is a brain injury that causes changes in how the brain functions, leading to symptoms that can be physical (e.g., headache, dizziness), cognitive (e.g., difficulty concentrating or remembering), emotional/behavioural (e.g., depression, irritability) and/or related to sleep (e.g., drowsiness, difficulty falling asleep); may be caused either by a direct blow to the head, face or neck, or a blow to the body that transmits a force to the head that causes the brain to move rapidly within the skull; can occur even if there has been no loss of consciousness (in fact most concussions occur without a loss of consciousness); and, cannot normally be seen on X-rays, standard CT scans or MRIs.
A concussion is a clinical diagnosis made by a medical doctor or nurse practitioner. It is critical that a student with a suspected concussion be examined by a medical doctor or nurse practitioner.
For a visual overview of the steps and role responsibilities in suspected and diagnosed concussions, see Chart 1: Actions for Suspected Concussion and Chart 2: Actions for Diagnosed Concussion
The following PDF documents are available for download to enable a speedy diagnosis and recovery.