At Oxbridge Academy, we take great pride in providing optimal health care to all students and employees, including concussion management. Concussions are recognized as being a potentially very serious condition that if managed improperly, can lead to catastrophic consequences. In order for the medical staff to adequately manage a student with a concussion, each student that participates in a competitive sport, club sport, or dance class must complete baseline testing each year.
- What is a concussion?
- What are the symptoms of a concussion?
- Can a concussion be seen or diagnosed with a CT scan, MRI or other type of imaging?
- What is baseline testing and why is it required?
- Who is on the concussion management team at Oxbridge?
- What happens if my child suffers a concussion?
- What happens if I get a concussion or feel like I may have symptoms of a concussion?
- What is the process for recovery, treatment and returning to school?
- What is the process to return to sports or physical activity?
- What can I do to help my child at home?
- What are my restrictions if I have a concussion?
- What can happen if a concussion is not managed appropriately?
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head or body, a fall, or any other injury that causes the brain to shake inside the skull that may result in improper brain functioning. There does not have to be a loss of consciousness to sustain a concussion. Also, the force at which the head is hit does not have to be large to sustain a concussion. A concussion can range from mild to very severe and manifests itself differently in each individual. Concussions are recognized as being a potentially very serious condition that if managed improperly, can lead to catastrophic consequences.
Each concussion, as well as each person, is unique and individualized in nature. Therefore, symptoms will vary among people with concussions. Signs or symptoms of a concussion may include any of the following:
- Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
- Neck pain
- Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
- Sensitivity to noise and light
- Dizziness, balance problems
- Blurred, double or fuzzy vision
- Slurred speech
- Appearing dazed
- Difficulty with concentration and/or memory
- Personality changes
- Changes in sleep patterns
No, there are no current imaging studies that will identify, diagnose, or show a concussion. If emergency medical treatment is required for a head injury or suspected concussion and the ER doctor states that a concussion is not seen on the CT scan or MRI, it does not mean that a concussion has not occurred. We still expect the student to follow up with an appropriate health care physician or neurologist and with the Health and Wellness Clinic staff following an ER visit. A copy of all ER or urgent care paperwork is required to be kept on file in the Oxbridge Health and Wellness Clinic.
Baseline testing provides a record of subjective and objective data for a student that can be used as a comparison should they sustain a concussion. This baseline testing will help the members of the concussion management team effectively manage, treat, and return students to academics and physical activity following a concussion. The baseline testing is conducted by the medical professionals of the Health and Wellness Clinic, and will consist of concussion tests including but not limited to, SCAT 3, Dual-Task Timed Tandem, and King Devick test (K-D test).
The concussion management team is comprised of health care professionals who have extensive knowledge and experience with concussions. The Oxbridge concussion management team consists of a physical therapist, athletic trainers, the school psychologist, and a health care physician that specializes in concussions, typically a neurologist. The team helps facilitate doctor’s visits, monitors progress and recovery following a concussion, facilitates academic accommodations as needed, communicates with parents and teachers, and supervises the return to physical activity procedure.
If your child is exhibiting signs and symptoms consistent with a concussion, he/she will be immediately removed from participation in physical activity for evaluation by the Oxbridge medical staff. Following evaluation, if the Oxbridge medical staff suspects that the student has a concussion they will not be allowed to return to participation in any physical activity until cleared by an appropriate health care physician. Physical activity includes PE class, club sports, competitive sports, dance class, weight lifting, and drama classes that involve physical activity. Should your child sustain a concussion, a member of the Health and Wellness Clinic will contact you with more information, including physician referral information, warning signs of a worsening condition, and an overview of the return to play and return to learn procedures.
If you don’t feel well, and are exhibiting any signs or symptoms related to a concussion, stop any physical activity immediately and tell a coach, teacher, or member of the Health and Wellness Clinic. If you are at practice, stop immediately and inform the athletic trainer present. You will be evaluated for a concussion and if the staff suspects a concussion you will not be allowed to return to any physical activity until cleared by an appropriate health care physician and the return to play steps have been completed. You will not be allowed to participate in PE, or any other type of physical activity, including travel or recreation sports teams that are not affiliated with Oxbridge Academy.
If a student sustains a concussion, they will need to be evaluated by an appropriate health care professional (neurologist or other doctor that specializes in concussion management). The Health and Wellness Clinic staff can help facilitate referrals to such doctors. The doctor may feel that the student would benefit from staying home from school for several days. If this happens, do not worry, it is a normal step in the process that helps the brain heal.
Once the student returns to school we require that they check into the Health and Wellness Clinic each day prior to class. They will then fill out a symptom checklist which will allow us to track their progress and help us make decisions with the school psychologist for appropriate classroom accommodations. It is just as important to allow cognitive rest for the brain to heal as it is to rest from physical activity.
Once the student is symptom free and the doctor involved in the student’s medical care gives clearance to begin, the student will start the following six-step return process with stage two.
- Stage One: Complete physical and cognitive rest
- Stage Two: Light aerobic activity to increase the heart rate to no more than 70% max HR, no resistance training
- Stage Three: Sport-specific exercise (Aerobic + Strength training)
- Stage Four: Non-contact practice and/or drills (Non-contact sport specific drills)
- Stage Five: Full contact practice
- Stage Six: Return to full activity
It is mandatory that there be at least 24 hours between each stage. If the student begins to experience symptoms at any stage that stage is over and they will return to the previous stage. Once all stages are completed, the doctor has to give final clearance to return to all activity and sign the required concussion forms.
You can help at home by reminding your child that they are to follow the recommendations of the doctor, the Health and Wellness Clinic staff, and the school psychologist. This may include restricted or no use of cell phones, computers and other electronic devices. It may also include staying out of bright light and noisy places, restricting reading, and homework. Please do not let your child drive if they are still experiencing symptoms. If your child has a headache, you can give them Tylenol or a generic type of acetaminophen, not Advil, Motrin or generic Ibuprofen.
Everybody reacts to a concussion differently, may have different symptoms, and different restrictions. Please listen to the advice of your doctor and the Health and Wellness Clinic staff. Stay off your cell phone, iPad, tablet, computer or any other electronic devices. Do not drive if you are still experiencing symptoms. Do not drink alcohol as it will slow down the healing process of your brain. Avoid bright light, and noisy rooms or events. Do not exercise or participate in any physical activity. Please remember that if you go home because your symptoms worsen or you are staying home from school per your doctor’s recommendation, you are not allowed to come to after school activities or sporting events.
Please remember that the medical staff of the Health and Wellness Clinic have the students best interest, safety and well-being in mind. If a student is made to sit out of a sport or physical activity due to a suspected concussion try to remember that it is one game versus the rest of their lives. Below are some links with additional information about concussions. If you have any questions please contact the Director of Health and Wellness, Dr. Kelly Prisco.