Concussions: The Real Impact They Have on Schools
Did you know that if a person has experienced a concussion in the past, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), they are 4x more likely to get another one at a later time? If you are a school nurse, an athletic trainer, or any staff member at a school, it is important to be educated on how to identify and manage concussion symptoms. So what is a concussion? It is a type of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. This fast movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.
According to the Center for Disease Control, an estimated 329,290 children under the age of 19 are treated annually in the Emergency Room for sports and recreational-related injuries and concussions.¹ Recognition and an appropriate response when these types of injuries first occur can help speed up the recovery process and prevent further injury.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): What you should know as you care for student-athletes
In a competitive setting, sometimes athletes will push beyond their own abilities, which can be very damaging to their health, especially if they’ve received a head injury. That’s where coaches, trainers, and school staff come into play. It’s up to you to help recognize if a student has a concussion and to make the right call to pull an athlete out of play. Continuing to stay active with a TBI can lead to long-term issues and can even become fatal.
A Student with a TBI may experience the following symptoms²:
- Appears dazed or stunned
- Forgetfulness or confusion
- Answers questions slowly
- Moves clumsily and/or feels sluggish
- Experiences a headache or pressure in head
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sensitivity to light
- Loses consciousness
- Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes
- Can’t recall events prior to or after a hit/fall
Best Practices for Managing a TBI:
- Remove the injured athlete from play.
- Ensure the athlete is evaluated by a healthcare professional experienced in evaluating concussions.
- Notify the athlete’s parents or guardians about the possible concussion.
- Keep athletes out of play and only allow them to return once they have been fully cleared of the injury.
It is vital for school staff to be educated on concussion identification and management because of the potentially huge short and long-term impact on a student’s health. This topic is so important, in fact, that the CDC, in partnership with leading experts and organizations, has developed the HEADS UP: Concussion in School Sports initiative to raise concussion awareness and train schools on how to properly handle TBIs.
ImPACT for Concussion Management
ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing), is the most widely used and most scientifically validated computerized management tool to evaluate concussions. This product is used by more than 7,400 high schools and 1,000 colleges and universities. It is also used in clinical centers, credentialed imPACT consultants, professional teams, select military units and other qualified healthcare providers³. ImpACT is the only FDA-cleared concussion assessment aids for ages 5-59. ImPACT’s neurocognitive tests measure a baseline of the concussed person’s brain function. Many schools require the baseline test results to be submitted with each student’s “back to school” forms so that the school can store this information in the student’s medical record. It is important to have quantifiable information regarding the student before they participate in sports and other activities where they could suffer a head injury. Having baseline test results readily available to school nurses, athletic trainers, and even a coach, will benefit the student in case of a head injury, as a first-hand resource of the student’s brain activity during a post-injury examination.
How an Electronic Student Health Record (SHR) System Aids Concussion Management
An online Student Health Record (SHR) solution is definitely the most efficient way for schools to collect, track, and manage student concussion baseline test results, treatment notes, and action plans. This online platform provides a secure place for school staff to access this information in case of an emergency. With an SHR, student health records are available via a mobile device on or off campus!
An electronic Student Health Record (SHR) system:
- Allows staff and parents secure access to student health information & forms.
- Keeps health records well-organized and easily accessible through a cloud-based portal.
- Improves communication of critical data across campus and with parents.
- Gives staff access to student information on-the-go from anywhere through any ‘smart’ device.
- Provides an easy reporting functionality for game & practice eligibility.
- Streamlines injury tracking on & off campus through incident reporting and treatment notes.
Recovering from a TBI can be challenging not only for the patient but for all people involved in making the decision if the pupil is ready to return to sports and daily activities. To protect the safety of our youth, all 50 US states follow the “Return to Play” law. The CDC recommends that the healthcare providers diagnose and track the progression of the student, and determine when the student is able to safely return to sports activities. An SHR solution such as Magnus Health allows staff across the campus to plan and coordinate care, to track progress, and to help make the decision when it is safe for the student to participate in physical activities.
¹Center for Disease Control http://www.cdc.gov/headsup/basics/concussion_whatis.html
² Center for Disease Control