Concussions: a quick return to school would be beneficial for young people

MONTREAL — Young people who have suffered a concussion should return to school as soon as possible, as long as measures are taken to accommodate their symptoms, researchers from the Children’s Hospital Research Institute have found. of Eastern Ontario (CHEO).

And paradoxically, the more intense the symptoms, the greater the benefits of returning to school.

“Our new study really reinforces the importance of getting kids back to their activities as early as possible, to the activities that they like to do, that they want to do, that they need for their mental health and their physical health,” said summarized Professor Andrée-Anne Ledoux, of the CHEO Research Institute.

Popular belief maintains that young people who have suffered a concussion need calm and rest to recover. This study, however, is in the wake of several previous studies that show that a rapid resumption of activities ― sports, educational and other ― is beneficial after a concussion, as long as it is well supervised.

Researchers looked at 1,600 young people who returned to school within 48 hours of their concussion, compared with those who returned to school later.

They found that an early return to school within two days was associated with better recovery within two weeks of concussion in young people aged 8 to 18. Moreover, the resulting benefits were greater in young people who were the most symptomatic.

“The idea is to get the children back to school as quickly as possible, but in a safe way,” said Ms. Ledoux.

If the child is bothered by noise or light, she cited as an example, steps should be taken to accommodate him. The school must work with the students, with the parents and with the health care team to adapt measures for this child, to allow a return to school as soon as possible, added Ms. Ledoux.

We could for example consider shorter days, breaks during the day or even a reduction in the workload at home, she said. Schools that require a doctor’s note or that the child be completely asymptomatic before allowing their return should also change their minds in light of new knowledge, she believes.

“It’s not a ‘one size fits all’ model,” explained the researcher. It is said that for the average person, yes, returning to school as soon as possible, after 48 hours, seems to reduce symptoms to two weeks. But like any disease, you have to consider the individual, their symptoms, because not all concussions are the same.”

Even a very symptomatic child can do some activities, she continues; Viewing the concussion passively does not help recovery, as the young person may then become a little more passive towards their recovery.

The benefits of an early return to class could stem from reduced stress from missing school, a return to a normal sleep/wake pattern, and a rapid resumption of socialization.

“We saw it during the pandemic, for anyone, said Ms. Ledoux. Being isolated at home creates more anxiety and more depression. To go back to school without having to do homework or without having to do homework, just even walking to school, seeing friends again, having that social connection, for a child that’s huge for their development social, for his normal mental development.”

Preventing ourselves from doing the activities that we like to do and that we want to do really harms our quality of life, she recalls.

“That’s why it’s important to get back to what we’re doing while realizing that yes, I have a concussion, I can’t go for it, (…) I just have to take it easy, then come back with accommodations at school,” concluded Ms. Ledoux.

The findings of this study are published by the medical journal JAMA Network Open.

Concussions: a quick return to school would be beneficial for young people