Coordinate and produce local community lectures to increase concussion awareness

  School Staff

Concussion can happen to any student and not just student-athletes. It is essential that all school staff recognize the signs and symptoms of a concussion and be able to assist the student during their injury.

Every student that suffers a concussion will present with different symptoms and will recover at different lengths. An individualized recovery protocol should be implemented for students struggling to return to their normal level of academic work.

It is important for teachers and school administrators to understand that a student suffering a concussion may not be able to complete the usual amount of work until their normal cognitive function has returned.

How does a student safely return to the classroom following a concussion?

A graded-return back to cognitive function is recommended for the student that has had to miss school because of their concussion. Remember, a concussion is an injury to how the brain functions and although the student may be back in the school environment they may not be fully back to their pre-injury level.

What academic support can be offered during recovery?

There are many academic options that can be utilized for a student suffering from a concussion. Once the health care provider releases the student back to academic activities it is very important that all members of the school environment are providing the same accommodations to help minimize stress and anxiety for the student. The school nurse or guidance counselor can act as the point person for notifying teachers of daily progress and changes in the student's symptoms.

Excused absence from classSeveral days of complete rest, progressing to limited attendance, may be needed
Rest periods during the school dayWhen symptoms flare, brief rest and pain medication may allow student to return to class
Extension of assignment deadlinesInformation processing speed and ability to handle full workload may be impeded
Postponement or staggering of testsMental effort to prepare and then take test may7 worsen symptoms
Excuse from ( or un-weight) specific tests and assignmentsRelieves emotional pressure and allows return to regular workload as soon as possible
Extended testing timeInformation processing speed may be impeded
Accommodate for light or noise sensitivityFluorescent light and high-stimulation environments may cause symptoms
Excuse from team sport practice and gym activitiesNo physical activity progresses to limited physical activity as tolerated.
Monitor backpack weight, stair use, playing of wind instrumentsAvoidance of other physical
User of a reader (or recorded books) for assignments and testingLessens visual scanning and concentration demands
Use of a note taker or scribeLessens visual, attention and concentration demands
Use of smaller quieter examination roomLessens stimulation and distraction
Preferential classroom seatingLessens distraction
Temporary assistance of a tutorAssists in organizing and prioritizing assignments

McGrath N (2010) Supporting the Student-Athlete's Return to the Classroom After A Sports-Related Concussion


Students with a concussion may have increased memory and attention problems. They may not be able to learn as effectively or as quickly as before. High demanding activities can significantly increase symptoms (e.g., headache, fatigue, fogginess, dizziness) which in turn can make testing more difficult.

Note Taking

Note taking may be difficult due to impaired multi-tasking abilities and increased symptoms.

Work Load Reduction

It takes a concussed student much longer to complete assignments due to increased memory problems and decreased speed of learning. Recovery can be delayed when a student "pushes through" symptoms. Therefore, it is recommended that "thinking" or cognitive load be reduced, just as physical exertion is reduced. Examples of how to shorten work might be to reduce the length of essays, have the student do every other problem in a homework assignment, or highlight key concept areas for testing while eliminating testing on less important topics. Doing school work in 15 minute intervals, followed by a rest break, is often needed.


It is important for students to take breaks as needed to control symptom levels. For example, if the headache worsens during class, the student should put his or her head on the desk to rest. For worse symptoms, he/she may need to go to the nurse's office to rest prior to returning to class.

Extra Time

Students may experience severe symptoms some days or nights and not others. With increased symptoms, students are advised to rest, and therefore may need to turn assignments in late on occasion.

School Environment

The school setting has a variety of constant visual and audible stimulus. Loud and noisy classrooms, hallways, auditoriums and cafeterias can provoke symptoms in concussed students. Bright halogen lights, smart boards and projectors are visual stimulus that often exacerbates symptoms. Modifications of this stimulus may be needed during the student's school day. Allowing students to leave class five minutes early to avoid loud hallways or eat in a quiet place during lunch, allowing pre-printed notes or use of sunglasses are options.

Physical Exertion

At no point shall a student return to contact or collision activities while currently experiencing symptoms. Return to play protocols must be completed with a certified athletic trainer or other medical provider experienced with return to play protocols. Non-contact aerobic activities will be prescribed by the medical provider as tolerated.

The student's health care provider may ask for accommodations during the student's return back to the classroom. Open and consistent communication between the student's family, the health care provider and the school staff will provide for an easy and safe progression back to the classroom.

The CCTF has created a health care provider's accommodation form for an individualized treatment plan.

Link to School Accommodations form (Post-injury care form.pdf)