Tuesday, July 29, 2014
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Concussions and kids: Why do they need to ease back into academics?

Parents should be aware that it's not easy for a child to return to academics after a concussion, according to a new report from the AAP.

Concussions and kids: Why do they need to ease back into academics?

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The awareness of the seriousness of concussions is at an all-time high because of the deleterious results on long-term mental health to serious athletes with repeated concussions.  Football players most prominently, but also ice hockey players and even baseball players are showing severe early decline in mental function as they enter their fourth and fifth decade of life.

But most concussions do not happen to professional and college athletes, they happen to children who play football, lacrosse, hockey and soccer in vast numbers and often without special skills or good training.  And the aftermath can be quite serious and prolonged immediately, not just decades later.

A concussion is a brain injury occurring after a blow to the head that results in temporary loss of consciousness, confusion, hallucinations, amnesia and/or sensory impairment – decreases in vision or hearing quality, ringing in ears, imaginary smells and so on.  Children have thinner skulls and more vascular brains and can sustain these injuries at lower levels of impact than adults. 

Parents should be aware that it’s not easy for a child to return to academics after a concussion. For many with post-concussion problems, it is very difficult for them to return to some school subjects, especially in quantitative fields such as math. The American Academy of Pediatrics published a commentary earlier this week for parents on the problems associated with returning to academics in children after a concussion. The report says:

“After a brain injury from a blow to the head, youngsters can have symptoms such as headaches, blackouts, blurred vision, confusion, dizziness, stomachaches, sensitivity to light and noise, and mood changes.

Here is some important advice that I heartily endorse from the report: Studies have shown that the injured brain might need to take a break from texting, video games, TV and school work. Your child’s pediatrician will be able to determine how much rest is best for your child. “

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletics Association (PIAA) instituted new rules on returning to school after a concussion last year. They have a learning website that can be registered at for free at and can be completed in as little as 20 minutes for adults working with school-aged children who get concussed in sports.  They recommend seeing a concussion specialist before returning to contact sports. 

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, the Rothman Institute (orthopedics) and Wills Eye Hospital  have established a formal concussion institute at the Philadelphia Naval Yard.

In addition, the Nemours Foundation (DuPont Hospital for Children and Nemours Pediatrics at Jefferson), offers a concussion clinic.  Experts from pediatric rehabilitation medicine, neurology, sports medicine and more will help guide your child’s safe return to normal activities. 

Also, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has a pediatric concussion management program (and a series of videos and infographics answering various questions about concussions available online). Many other medical organizations are doing the same. Such practices help children with concussions return to both sports and to life, especially to school.

Disclosure: I work for the Nemours Foundation and am an officer of Thomas Jefferson University.


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Gary A. Emmett, M.D. Director of Hospital Pediatrics at TJU Hospital & Pediatrics Professor at Thomas Jefferson Univ.
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The Healthy Kids blog is your window into the latest news, research and advice around children's health. Learn more about our growing list of contributors here.

If you have questions about your child's health, ask them here.

Anna Nguyen Healthy Kids blog Editor
Stephen Aronoff, M.D., M.B.A. Temple University Hospital
Peter Bidey, D.O. Medical Director of Family Medicine at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Christopher C. Chang, M.D., Ph.D Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Jefferson Medical Colg
Mario Cruz, M.D. St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Drexel University College of Medicine
Katherine K. Dahlsgaard, Ph.D. Lead Psychologist - The Anxiety Behaviors Clinic, CHOP
Gary A. Emmett, M.D. Director of Hospital Pediatrics at TJU Hospital & Pediatrics Professor at Thomas Jefferson Univ.
Lauren Falini Bariatric exercise physiologist, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
Hazel Guinto-Ocampo, M.D. Nemours duPont Pediatrics/Bryn Mawr Hospital
Rima Himelstein, M.D. Crozer-Keystone Health System
Jessica Kendorski, PhD, NCSP, BCBA-D Associate Professor in School Psychology/Applied Behavior Analysis at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Anita Kulick President & CEO, Educating Communities for Parenting
Janet Rosenzweig, MS, PhD, MPA VP for Programs & Research for Prevent Child Abuse America
Beth Wallace Smith, R.D. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
W. Douglas Tynan, Ph.D. Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Jefferson Medical Colg
Flaura Koplin Winston, M.D., Ph.D Scientific Director of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention
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