Any blow to your child’s head can cause a concussion. Some effects happen right away: headache, dizziness, and loss of balance. These physical symptoms may fade quickly. But other problems—such as trouble sleeping or thinking—may linger longer. These can affect your child’s time in the classroom.
A concussion is a type of brain injury. Most children who suffer one do so while taking part in a sport, such as football or soccer. They may be hit directly in the head. Or a sudden bump to the body may jar their brain.
A concussion doesn’t usually cause a child to lose consciousness. And symptoms may not appear for minutes to hours after a blow. They may include:
Loss of balance or coordination
Vision and hearing problems
Trouble concentrating or remembering
Changes in personality, mood, or behavior, including sadness or irritability
Delayed speech or reaction time
Nausea or vomiting
Many children recover from a concussion within a few weeks. But symptoms can last longer than you might expect. Some children report headaches up to 1 month later. Others continue to have trouble sleeping, thinking, and remembering. Fatigue is a common complaint. Some children may also become depressed, frustrated, or restless.
Your child’s healthcare provider will likely set a time frame for when your child can return to normal physical activity. You should also discuss restrictions on schoolwork. The aftereffects of a concussion may affect how well a child learns. For example, headaches or vision problems could make it harder for your child to concentrate. Lapses in memory could strain test taking.
To help your child deal with the mental and emotional effects of a concussion, talk with your child’s healthcare provider and teachers about adequate recovery time. Your child may need a gradual transition back to full-time schoolwork. Here are some strategies that may work for your child:
Allow your child to take frequent breaks during the school day if headaches persist. A few minutes rest in a nurse’s office or quiet area may ease the pain.
Ask teachers to help your child with blurred or double vision. For instance, have them consider limiting your child’s exposure to computer screens, videos, or fluorescent lights.
Delay major tests or projects until your child is able to fully concentrate and memorize class content. Or allow your child to have more time to complete assignments and exams.
Make sure your child rests enough. Let your child start school later in the morning if they have trouble sleeping. Or schedule periods of rest throughout the day.
Want to protect your child from a concussion in the first place? Always make sure your child wears the appropriate safety equipment for a sport, such as a helmet. It should be in good condition and fit well. Also teach your child to play by the rules and to follow their coach’s direction.