Concussions - Supporting the Student Athlete
The severity of concussions
The severity of concussions have been featured many times recently in the media. The NFL was fairly recently sued for about 760 million dollars by former NFL football players who suffered concussions and were experiencing the severe effects of it. Concussions can cause brain damage, and multiple concussions increases the chances that the individual will suffer the symptoms in the future. Many times the question has been raised: what are the appropriate steps to take before, during, and after a player suffers a question. This article is geared towards the student athlete, namely high school athletes.
First I want to start out with the steps that should be taken before a concussion happens and really before the sports season even starts. To start out the school, coaches, players, and parents should be educated about what a concussion is, what the symptoms are, and the steps one takes to recover. That way everyone one will be aware of the concussion protocol and more concussions will be diagnosed that normally wouldn't have been. The second part of the pre-concussion step is to have each athlete take some type of a computerized neurocognitive test. That way during or after the athlete suffers a concussion the severity of the injury will be able to be measured.
Have you ever received a concussion playing sports?
Steps to take during a concussion
When a concussion occurs there should be some tests performed immediately to measure severity. These tests will be some neurocognitive tests, like memorization tests, and physical tests as well. After the sporting event some more tests should be done in order to measure progress.
Steps to take afterwards - Athletic trainers/coaches
When the athlete receives a concussion there should be some steps taken afterwards by the athletic trainers and coaches to ensure a safe recovery. These steps include sitting out of any physical activites until the proper physical and neurocognitive tests are passed, and sitting out the appropriate amount of time before having any contact depending on the severity of the concussion.
Steps to take afterwards - school/parents
This is the main point that I wanted to focus on. Athletic trainers receive training on how to help aid an athlete that has received a concussion, but schools and parents generally don't receive any type of training. I wanted to give a few ideas that could help athletes recover.
- One is excused absences. In some extreme concussion cases it is extremely important that the athlete rests. It could be beneficially for the athlete to have some excused absences so that he could rest or at least be able to miss the first few classes so that he could sleep in and get a good amount of sleep.
- Another is receiving some rest periods during school. Sometimes concussion symptoms will flare up. It would be beneficial to have the athlete be able to take a rest period when those flare ups happen.
- A third is the extension of deadlines for tests and assignments. Athletes that are suffering the cognitive side effects of concussions would benefit from this. The symptoms may impair the athletes in doing cognitive related tasks. It would be smart to sit the athlete out of high stake tests like the ACT. Also long tests would be difficult for athletes as well.
- Another is preparing an academic plan to help the student complete his school work. This plan could include tutors or some type of an after school program that will help the athlete get all caught up on his school work.
In short there are some easy steps that could be taken by the school and parents to help a student athlete recover and progress academically. Some sort of physical and academic protocol should be established at schools to help the athletes have success in school