AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 4, 2017

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Studies Inconsistent on When Concussed Students Should Return to Learn, Policies and Protocols May Be Needed

Youth who have sustained one or more concussions may experience challenges when they return to the classroom and integrate back into active learning. Investigators at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Children’s of Alabama have reviewed literature and studies focused on returning to academics postconcussion to identify a full range of themes and gaps in research that need to be addressed. 

“Research surrounding concussed students’ returning to learn is noticeably lacking compared to that focused on return-to-play issues,” said Laura Dreer, Ph.D., director of the UAB Psychological and Neuropsychological Clinical Research Services. “Parents, educators and pediatricians often struggle with how much cognitive rest is needed to let the brain heal, and how and when to safely integrate students back into the classroom without exacerbating symptoms, like headaches.”

Other questions physicians and educators are often asked are related to what types of accommodations are needed for concussed students, who should be coordinating concussion management in the school setting and/or between systems of care, and what to do if the student’s symptoms do not resolve within a few days or weeks. Just like pressure some athletes feel in terms of returning to play, similar pressures can occur to get students back into learning.

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