Get kids back to school sooner after concussion for a better recovery, new study says

A recent CBC article written by Nicole Ireland "Get kids back to school sooner after concussion for a better recovery, new study says"...

Research shows kids who had worst symptoms benefited most by going back to school earlier... 

And Early physical activity helps children after concussions, study finds... so what does this really mean from a healthcare professional perspective!

Andrew Luo, Physiotherapist, weighs in!

A recently published study in Canada has found that getting kids back to school sooner after suffering a concussion may result in better recovery.

The study followed 1,630 children between the ages 5-18 who had been to emergency departments with concussion symptoms between August 2013 and June 2015. They found after 14 days, kids between ages 8-18 who returned to school early (missing 2 days or fewer of school) had less symptoms, even when their initial symptoms were more severe.

Concussion symptoms include pain, dizziness, sensitivity to light or sound, balance problems, and more. In some cases, they may present with anxiety, trouble focusing, trouble remembering things, and sleep disruption.

These symptoms may sound like a good reason to keep kids out of a school environment, which provides lots of stimuli and potential stressors. However, researchers state it is safe to go to school with some symptoms.

Going to school allows kids to see their friends, avoid the stress of missing too many classes, keep a normal sleep schedule, and do light to moderate activity which has been shown to benefit blood flow and healing to the brain which stimulates healing and helps to relieve stress . Also supporting positive aspects of their mental health. 

But How Long Do Concussion Symptoms Last? 

Dr. Mark Halstead a pediatric sports medicine physician at St. Louis Children's Hospital who was not involved in the study, agrees with the findings. He stated that this evidence shows how a managed workload from school will benefit the brain, and that brain injury symptoms do not mean more brain injury. Dr. Halstead found these results to be consistent with what he sees in clinic as well.

This study presents evidence for early return to school, with the senior author of the study and a concussion expert at the CHEO Research Institute in Ottawa, Dr. Roger Zemek stating that the old guidelines for concussions that valued more rest are outdated and send the wrong message about concussion recovery. Previous guidelines for sending kids back to school are unclear, and healthcare providers are not always up to date on the most recent evidence. 

This study makes note of two important new recommendations; First, medical clearance is no longer needed from a physician to return to school, and second children should be encouraged to return to school as soon as possible. Schools should still make accommodations for students returning to school with a concussion, like excusing them from contact gym activities, and postponing tests until they improve.

Other accommodations recommended include starting with a shortened school day, allowing them to return form 1-2 hours, then progressing to half days, and full days based on how they tolerate it. Depending on their age and the difficulty of their classes, semesters and workload other accommodations can be made. Email to get a better understanding for classroom accommodations by grade! 

So, in summary, it is very important to make sure you are working with a rehab team who specialize in concussion recovery, return to learn and return to play protocol who communicate with your teachers, principals, tutors and coaches and are as up to date as possible on the current concussion rehab protocol. Do your homework and keep your healthcare practitioners accountable! 

The rehab team at Honsbger Physio+ provide Concussion Physiotherapy & Rehab in Markham and Aurora, Ontario!

To learn more about our Concussion Rehab approach, click here

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