Gil and Michelle Trenum of Prince William County, Virginia have taken what was the most horrible day in their life and are doing something about it. After Michelle so genuinely shared her story about her son, Austin — here exclusively with The Concussion Blog — her and her husband refused to believe something could not be done about it. The Trenum’s have put forth a tremendous effort in connecting with some very “stout” individuals in the concussion research and management area. It was not to find out why this happened so much, as it has been an effort to not let this happen again, to any parent or any kid.
Joe Conroy of InsideNova.com reported on a recent school board meeting, where Gil Trenum is a board representative, at this meeting was Dr. Gereld Gioia, cheif of the Division of Pediatric Neurosugery at Children’s Medical Center in Washington D.C.;
“A lot of people are asking ‘Why now? What’s so special about these times?’” said Gioia, who was invited by Brentsville District School BoardrepresentativeGil Trenum. “We have a perfect storm coming together in the sense that we better understand the brain, we have the resources at our disposal now that we can be informed about this injury, concussions, which are really a type of mild traumatic brain injury.
“There aren’t more concussions than years ago, but we have more knowledge about them and their symptoms,” Gioia said.
In the article is the issue that I have been trying to make more and more of, removal from school and cognitive activities. However, this time it is Dr. Gioia explaining why it is necessary to remove adolescents from school;
But one of the most important factors is to realize that keeping someone who suffered a concussion out of athletic action is not enough.
“[Concussions] are the stretching of the brain that releases chemicals and affects the electric chemical action,” Gioia said. “When that software system is thrown off, it takes a lot of time for that to recover. The more effort we put into an activity mentally, the more we’re demanding that software in the brain to work.
“The more that this happens,” Gioia said, “the more you’re taking away from the recovery process. If you strain your knee badly and you go jumping up and down on it, you’re not going to allow that knee to recover as quickly.”
Likewise, someone who suffers a concussion should not be “reading, watching television or texting,” Gioia said.
“Learning is probably the most effortful and energy spending activity the brain is going to do,” he added. “We need to manage the amount of cognitive activity or thinking that is required by that software system in the brain. The brain can’t work as hard as it normally works until it has recovered.”
It would be great, in my opinion, if the CDC took a hard-line stance on removal from school. Currently they advise that each individual consult with their doctor about such management. The problem with this is, IF doctors are actually looking at the CDC for guidance then how will they know about this course of action. Likewise, what about the adolescents that are treated by doctors/medical professionals that are behind on the information? If the parents or coaches go to find more information from places like the CDC then they also would not know about this course of action.
Simply put, as I shared with Gil and Michelle Trenum during this process;
The other issue, I believe should be addressed is removal from school. It should be automatic, cognitive activity is just as, if not more harmful to the brain during its recovery. I would say take a look at that, and become more wary of that. We can tell kids to stay away from texting, computer, video games, but we can control if they will be in a forced brain activity like school or the school setting.
I continue to stick by this claim, this goes for VIDEO GAMES, TEXTING, READING, WATCHING TV. Until I am proven differently, there needs to be a louder and more clear call for us to protect the adolescent by getting them out of school and cognitive activities.
With all of that information about removal from school and the incidence of concussions the underlying reason for all of this is awareness… Education and awareness by everyone in and around sports/adolescents will help with the stigma and management of concussions. Gil Trenum said it best;
“In Austin’s case, both of his concussions were detected by behavioral changes his teammates identified,” Trenum said. “I can not overemphasize the importance of teammates.”