Weaving a Safety Net After Concussion
Almost all post-concussion management programs for children and teens emphasize the importance of "cognitive rest." It is rare that a student will need a formal educational plan (504 or IEP). A school-based plan of temporary accommodations is the best way to assure the optimal environment for students during the first 6 to 8 weeks after a concussion.
Convene a school team meeting
- Include the student’s parents, all of the student’s teachers, the school psychologist, and nurse.
- Identify a school Case Manager who will lead the team.
- Share general concussion education resources (CDC Guidelines; School District information)
- Develop procedures for implementing the student’s plan of support
- Discuss how to provide a supportive safety net for the student considering the following cognitive processes almost always affected by concussion.
Cognitive processes almost always affected by concussion
- Complex, integrative thinking — such as is required for successful participation in class discussions, AP classes, taking complete notes, "thinking on one’s feet"
- Written language — term papers, scientific reports, essay exams, paragraphs
- Mental efficiency — thinking is laborious, multi-tasking is very difficult
- Mental processing speed
- Organization — such as is required for planning long-range or multi-step projects, also planning and executing homework assignments given by multiple teachers.
- Any areas of pre-injury cognitive weakness will be exaggerated.
Develop a Working Plan of temporary accommodations, potentially including:
- Excuse the student from any missed assignments.
- Integrate all class expectations , test, and Project schedules across teachers.
- Negotiate multiple assignments so that they are not occurring at the same time.
- Assign a good note-taker in each class whose notes are copied and provided to the student daily.
- Plan a study hall each day to review and consolidate new learning and to organize upcoming projects, tests, and assignments.
- Assign a counselor to meet with the student at the end of each day to check in, problem-solve, and assure that homework needs are being addressed.
- Consider carefully upcoming standardized tests (especially SAT and ACT) and advise student as to taking these during this time.
Written by Jeanne Dise-Lewis, PhD, The Children's Hospital Colorado. Used with permission. www.childrenscolorado.org.