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Concussions on the Field, Repercussions in School


Concussions on the Field, Repercussions in School

The latest question for researchers studying the consequences of concussions isn't when student-athletes can safely get back in the game. It's how long to wait before they can return to class.


New research suggests concussion effects may linger weeks after symptoms of dizziness and headaches have disappeared. School-safety experts are focusing attention on the impact of concussions on classroom performance. A small study of 28 patients by New York University researchers published earlier this year in the journal Radiology found that brain changes could be detected up to a year after even one mild concussion.


Brain-injury specialists say the mental exertion of normal classwork could even worsen the effects of a concussion. The harder students recovering from a concussion try to focus on any mental activity, the more severe their headaches or dizziness may become.


The cognitive effects of a blow to the head on the playing field can temporarily make focusing on studies, taking tests or listening in classrooms more difficult, several pediatric neurologists said. Concussion-related memory problems, mental sluggishness and inability to focus can affect grades, SAT scores and placement test results.


"A concussion is an academic injury, in the sense that it affects the capacity for learning," said pediatric neuropsychologist Gerard Gioia at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington. "There are rarely times in school when these concussion issues do not have some potential effect on a kid's grades and academic pursuits."


This fall, the U.S. Institute of Medicine is expected to release a major report on sports-related youth concussions that will offer recommendations for new research and clarify treatment options, including ways to safely return students to their normal academic workload.


But so far, schools have little data to guide academic recovery. Among other issues for researchers is the fact that not all concussions affect the brain the same way.


Still, almost every concussion leaves the brain unable to easily handle normal mental chores.


"When we place demands on a student's brain, that can cause symptoms to spike," said Brenda Eagan Brown, program coordinator for a return-to-school concussion program organized by BrainSteps, a program offered by the Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania. The state department of health and the department of education fund the effort.

References and further information

This article was originally produced by The Wall Street Journal


To view the entire article visit The Wall Street Journal website


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