Virginia Board of Education Guidelines For Policies on Concussions in Students (July 1, 2016)
The Brain Injury Association of Virginia notes that it is important for all education professionals to be aware of the issues surrounding brain injuries and how they can affect the student’s abilities in the educational setting. When a child is known or suspected to have sustained a concussion, either from a sports injury, motor-vehicle crash, fall, or other cause, the resulting impairments can be multidimensional and may include cognitive, behavioral, and/or physical deficits. Impairments can be mild or severe, temporary or prolonged. Because no two concussions are alike, it is difficult to determine the period of recovery.
Concussions are a medical and educational issue and are considered to be among the most complex injuries in medicine to assess, diagnose, and manage. The concussed brain requires mental and physical rest to recover. Developing brains are highly variable and concurrent issues may affect cognitive recovery. Every concussion is different, and each student will have unique symptoms and recovery times. Facilitating/managing a student’s recovery from a concussive injury includes awareness of current symptoms, the pre-injury status of physical and cognitive function, and the student’s sensitivity to physical and cognitive exertion. Concussion symptoms may have a significant impact on learning and academic achievement. A concussion may interfere with a student’s ability to focus, concentrate, memorize, and process information. This cognitive impairment may cause frustration, nervousness, anxiety, and/or irritability, and further affect mood or previously existing irritability or anxiety. The “return to learn” academic concussion management plan is divided into graduated phases to promote recovery, considering all factors in this complex injury. Some students may need a short period of rest with a gradual return to school, while others will be able to continue academic work with minimal instructional support.