The first 24 hours after a concussion are considered a critical healing phase for the brain, since concussions are considered a metabolic imbalance in the brain neurons. The brain needs time to rest and the “cognitive rest” guidelines are the prescribed treatment.
Our school nurse, Thea Maurer BSN, RN, CNRN is responsible for transitioning your child’s safe return to the school learning environment and athletic participation.
When can my child return to school?
Each child’s injury is unique and requires careful observation from both parents and your concussion management team. You can promote recovery and prevent ongoing symptoms by following a “return to learn” plan. Academics and school attendance are the first priority. A return to athletics is initiated once the child is fully tolerating school and an academic make-up plan is in place.
Return to Learn Plan
Step 1: Home-Total Rest
After a confirmed concussion, your child should remain at home on the “cognitive rest” guidelines until the symptoms subside or do not increase with light cognitive exertion.
- Cognitive rest = No homework, no reading, no TV, computer/video games, no texting, no noisy environments
- Light cognitive activities can include watching TV, listening to audio books, drawing and cooking. If the symptoms increase, cease the activity and rest.
Step 2: Home: Light Cognitive Activity
Once your child’s symptoms have significantly improved, your child may resume some light cognitive activities that do not cause symptoms to get worse.
- Initially, your child may only tolerate 5-15 minutes of light cognitive work,such as reading. The time is increased as long as symptoms do not worsen significantly.
- Once your child can accomplish 2-3 hours of school-specific work at home with breaks without a significant increase in symptoms, they may return to school for a half-day.
Although recovery times may vary, the majority of students will remain at home for no longer than a week.
Step 3: Half Day of School with Accommodations
- Your child should report to the Health Office( Thea Maurer) for evaluation and management plan.
- Missed work is NOT expected to be made up immediately upon return to school.
- Student remains at school unless a significant rise of symptoms occurs.
- Student may take breaks or rest in Health Office as needed throughout the day for minor elevation in symptoms.
Step 4: Full Day School with Accommodations
- Symptoms continued to be monitored during school, students may take rest breaks as needed.
- Students may initially be excused from music and cafeteria if recommended by health care provider
- No physical education, intramurals or athletic participation until the Return to Play protocol is completed and cleared by physician.
Step 5: Return to Play
- Students are required by PA state law to be evaluated and cleared by an appropriate medical professional before athletic participation.