Often students return to school with subtle cognitive, academic, or behavioral needs following concussion. If these are addressed early on it can alleviate long-term difficulties. Here are guidelines for when a student returns to school after a concussion or mild brain injury.
Inform school staff
Learn basic information about concussion/mild brain injury.
Watch for any of the possible red flags associated with concussion/mild brain injury.
Cognitive difficulties compared to pre-injury performance
- Trouble paying attention
- Difficulty remaining on task
- Slowed responses and or processing of information
- Difficulty shifting attention from task to task
- Organization challenges
- Reduced academic performance
Social behavior difficulties compared to pre-injury
- Impulsive behaviors
- Initiation difficulties (trouble starting things)
- Changes in mood
- Blurred vision
- Changes in taste or smell
If red flags appear, teachers can provide minimal accommodations on a temporary basis until symptoms subside (usually within 3-4 weeks). Accommodations might include:
- Reduced assignment load
- Increased time to complete assignments or exams
- Use of an organizer to track assignments
- Rest periods during the day
- Directions in both oral and written formats
- Clear expectations
- Large tasks broken into smaller components
If the student continues to have academic difficulty after a month, the student’s concerns should be further evaluated by a team and the evaluation process for more formalized support such as a 504 plan or IEP begun.
Communicate with the family
Stay in regular communication about changes noticed at school and at home.
This information was adapted from Ylvisaker, M., Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation, 2nd ed. Pages 381-384.
From the Center on Brain Injury Research and Training. Reprinted with permission.