A new program from Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center seeks to equip schools helping students recover from concussions, a common form of traumatic brain injury.
While concussions are usually mild, symptoms such as headaches, shortened attention spans, poor memory, depression and irritability can negatively impact a student’s academic performance when they return to school.
After a survey of 144 public school staff and parents and 17 school districts, HIPRC researchers discovered significant unmet needs for guidance in helping students Return to Learn, or RTL, after a concussion. These students need rest and may require temporary modifications to their academic plans, but Washington schools had no clear pathway for navigating these needs.
Based on research, clinical expertise, focus groups with school staff and surveys of students impacted by concussion and their parents, HIPRC has created a resource packet to guide schools in managing RTL based on the latest evidence-based recommendations. The goal of the packet is a quick, appropriate response to student concussions that reduce the risk of long-term impact.
During spring 2018, several Seattle schools implemented the packets, and HIPRC gathered usability feedback with the goal of refining the packets and making them more widely available.
From there, HIPRC is expanding resources for schools and RTL by developing a toolkit that will guide schools through defining an RTL policy that fits both their local needs and is in alignment with current medical recommendations. This will include school staff education and clearly define the roles and responsibilities of school staff within each school when responding to and supporting a student with a concussion.
The center is looking for Washington state high schools to pilot this toolkit during the 2019-2020 school year. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line RTL School Recruitment or visit the TBI Research Section website.
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Marissa Tucker