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Concussions: What Teachers Need to Know

What Teachers Should Know About Concussions

A concussion is brain injury that affects the way the brain works and can lead to symptoms such as headache, dizziness, and confusion.

Most kids with a concussion return to school within a week. They may still have some symptoms and need special supports when they first return. This information will help familiarize you with what symptoms and challenges your student may have and how you can help them.

What Concussion Symptoms Might Happen?

Health care providers clear kids with concussions to go back to school when their symptoms are tolerable for 30–45 minutes (about the length of a class period).

Students recovering from a concussion might have:

  • headaches
  • blurry vision
  • tiredness
  • trouble concentrating or remembering
  • light sensitivity
  • sadness or irritability

They might need:

  • a shorter school day
  • fewer classes
  • extra time for assignments, homework, quizzes, and tests
  • tutoring
  • school-provided class notes and study guides
  • rest breaks
  • to avoid activities that take concentration, such as quizzes or tests
  • to make up schoolwork during vacation
  • to wear sunglasses due to light sensitivity

Students whose concussion symptoms continue or get worse may need a more formalized plan like a:

  • 504 plan or IEP to make sure they get the services they need
  • response to intervention protocol (RTI) to make sure they get better as expected

What Can Teachers Do if a Student Has Concussion Symptoms?

If the student’s symptoms are mild, encourage them to try to stay through a class period (of 30–45 minutes). They can try resting their head on the desk for a few minutes.

The student should see the nurse if:

  • the symptoms last longer than 30–45 minutes
  • they have new or worse symptoms
  • the symptoms are intolerable

If your student’s symptoms don’t seem to get better within 2 weeks, talk to the school nurse. The nurse can talk to the student’s parent about having their child checked by a doctor. The school can add more supports, if needed.

What Else Should I Know?

Students cleared to be at school after a concussion aren’t necessarily cleared for sports, physical education, or other activities that could lead to another head injury. Students should follow their doctor’s recommendations for staying out of sports and other activities until the doctor says these are OK.

Any student who gets a head injury while at school should be seen by the nurse right away.

Every student recovers differently from a concussion. They need support from family, friends, and teachers so they can heal and gradually return to the activities they enjoyed before the concussion.

Reviewed by: Brian Daniels, MD
Date Reviewed: Jun 20, 2023

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