If your school-age child suffers a concussion, how well will he or she do when returning to school and trying to learn? A new study in the journal Pediatrics says that depends on two major factors: how severe the concussion symptoms your child is having and the grade level of the child.
A concussion is a brain injury caused by a fall or blow, jolt or bump to the head that causes the brain and head to move back and forth rapidly. While most recover from mild concussions quickly, the young and the elderly can have symptoms that last for days or weeks.
Signs of concussion can include headaches and blurred vision, dizziness and nausea, balance problems and a sensitivity to light and noise. Irritability, sadness and extreme lack of energy and sleep issues are also common.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that school professionals monitor a child closely for many of these symptoms because they would obviously affect a child’s ability to perform at school. And studies have certainly shown that a lack of energy, slower processing speed and impaired concentration can occur after concussions.
Researchers from the Children’s National Health System, George Washington University School of Medicine and Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University studied 349 students ages 5 to 18 to find out what happened to their academic performance after concussions. They divided the students into those who were continuing to experience problems following head injuries and those who were fully recovered, and asked the students and their parents to fill out questionnaires about their academic performance.
The study found that the severity of the concussion symptoms was directly related to the degree of academic problems among all grade levels. Eighty-eight percent of the children who were not fully recovered still had problems with concentration, headaches and fatigue. Seventy-seven percent of those same children had problems taking notes and found themselves spending more time on homework and having problems studying for exams and quizzes.
The study’s authors say their findings suggest that school systems and medical professionals should be working together to support students who are still in the recovery phase.
Across grades of schooling, high school students reported having the most learning problems, significantly more than middle or elementary school children.
“Our findings suggest that these supports are particularly necessary for older students, who face greater academic demands relative to their younger peers,” the study’s authors say.