Dr. Michael Schlitt, Neurosurgeon

The Other Side of Concussions

Dr. Michael Schlitt’s newest blog post

This recent article, posted in the New York Times, writes about concussions, the most common type of brain injury.  More and more developments have come to light when it comes to concussions.  More young athletes are being diagnosed with concussions or concussion-like symptoms today than ever before.  While preventive measures have been made in the realm of sporting equipment and more thorough testing processes have been used to identify concussions, there is something that few have considered to be a major factor until now: what happens after?

Student-athletes are equally responsible for performing in school as well as the athletic arena.  Since these individuals who suffer concussions have to go back to the classroom without any official recovery system or timeline in place, it is hard to know exactly how a student should be eased back into the classroom environment after being diagnosed with a concussion.

Without guidelines, many doctors recommend rest.  The brain needs time to heal and rest is imperative to the recovery process.  With worries that too much rest could be harmful to the process, there are many things to balance on the road to normalcy.  Many doctors suggest that rest does not always need to include physical sleep.  Rest from electronic devices such as playing video games, watching tv, and prolonged cell phone and computer use should be limited in the weeks following a concussion.

While each concussion is unique, most doctors agree that it takes three weeks to fully recover from most concussions.  This is if correct precautions for the student are taken.  To ease back into the school environment after a concussion, experts have said to inform the student’s teachers about the circumstances.  While the brain is recovering, it is very likely that classes that normally last for 45 minutes to an hour may need to be broken down into shorter periods for that student.  The idea being that the harder the brain works the slower the recovery process will be.

Individuals who suffer concussions may also have symptoms such as: sensitivity to light and loud noises, dizziness, and general lethargicness.  Teachers who understand the situation will be able to work closely with the parents and the student to possibly allow more time for a student to get to class or agree to the student wearing sunglasses in class.

With an estimation of over 300,000 diagnosed concussions in middle school and high school student-athletes per year, not to mention the countless that go undiagnosed, there is more and more emphasis placed on doctors, teachers, parents and the students themselves to ensure the recovery process is taken as seriously as possible especially without an official recovery timeline in place.

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