What About Return-to-Learn?

Two important groups released information about concussions and youth recently.  The Institute of Medicine recently released its Sports-Related Concussions in Youth: Improving the Science, Changing the Culture, addressing concussions for the youth (obviously by the title).  This was on the heels of the American Academy of Pediatrics release of their second report on concussions, addressing the return-to-learn aspect.  I offered some opinions on both of the reports via Twitter, but was really underwhelmed by the information in both documents.  It seems to me that even though the car is pointed in the right direction the gas pedal is being confused with the brake pedal.  At best I feel the community is driving though the rear-view mirror.

A loyal follower and some time contributor, Dorothy Bedford, a self-described “parent activist in concussion education, awareness and advocacy, and newly retired school board member in Princeton NJ,” has penned the following post regarding return-to-learn and the AAP paper.  This is not your typical parent; “I come by the interest in return-to-learn honestly, both from my daughters’ concussion and from the point of view of a school board member – with the opportunity to help protect the brains of all students.”

With all of that said, below is her post.  Thank you, Dorothy.  As a reminder, the inbox is always open to contributors.

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The Pediatricians Weigh In on Returning-to-Learning – A Mixed Review

The American Academy of Pediatrics has released its second major clinical report on concussions. It’s a good first step which will help many pediatricians begin to address the second most important issue in concussion management (after “remove from play,” and before “return to play”).  On the other hand, ten pages limits the territory it can cover; there’s little new for the ATC who takes a broad view of concussion recovery; the report wildly underplays the complementary role of the neuropsych, and omits any discussion of some important symptoms. I think the most important contribution this report makes will be nudging school administrators to action, especially those who have been inattentive or resistant to dealing with concussions in the classroom and gradual return to learn. It’s hard to ignore the AAP.  I will confess, since its release my reaction has swung up and down with each re-reading. Five days later, I hope this will be a balanced review. I like to keep the conversation open.

“Returning to Learning Following a Concussion” was published on October 27 (full report here: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/10/23/peds.2013-2867.full.pdf+html)  complementing AAP’s 2010 clinical report on “Sport-Related Concussions in Children and Adolescents”. The lead author on both reports is Dr. Mark Halstead, a specialist in non-operative sports medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. Neuropsychologist Dr. Gerald Gioia of National Children’s Medical Center was a consultant. Dr Gioia is a co-author of the CDC’s Physician’s ACE Return to School form, which should be in the hands of every student athlete and their parents for any concussion-related visit to a doctor (http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/headsup/pdf/ACE_care_plan_school_version_a.pdf ). Six other professional societies have endorsed this report.

The Good:

For pediatricians in areas with thin or no sports medicine/neuropsych coverage, this report is going to be very important,  Continue reading

Opinion on Zurich Statement

I think I have had enough time to digest the information in the 4th Consensus Statement; it is enough time for me to give an opinion.  WARNING: My opinion may differ than yours and you may even take umbrage with what I say.  However I am going to give my honest opinion.  To keep it as succinct as possible I will go in bullet form along with the statement itself.

In general I feel that we as the community in the “know” are muddying the waters more when it comes to concussions.  I think there are reasons for this; litigation and emotion mainly.  I still strongly feel that concussion identification and immediate assessment by trained personnel is non-complex; its simple.  Sure others may think it is hard; I think changing the oil in the car is hard and complicated – a mechanic would find that a mundane task.

Secondly, the now undeniable MASSIVE issue with concussions is not the injury itself, rather, the mismanagement of concussion; which includes but not limited to assessment, rest, rehabilitation, return to learn and return to play.  The newest consensus statement address some of this for the first time.  Now, the paper…

SECTION 1: SPORT CONCUSSION AND MANAGEMENT

  • The definition of concussion is more clear for the practitioner.
  • Starting to address the psychological aspects of concussions – about time.
  • Clearly states if no trained health care provider present that if any signs/symptoms present players must sit out.
  • Clearly states that if concussion present, no RTP same day for ANYONE!
  • Not really a fan of all the sideline assessments out there.  No where does it say its mandatory for any of these; rather they are tools at our disposal to help identify concussions.
    • Here is a novel approach people: use your training and ability to be in-tune with the athletes to make a solid clinical judgement.  Oh, wait, not every sport team has an athletic trainer available?  <–THIS IS THE PROBLEM WITH IDENTIFICATION AND ASSESSMENT.
    • The Statement also clearly makes it a point that clinical judgement is the standard of care when it comes to all of this.
  • Although currently there is not an objective measure of the injury on the brain they have opened the idea it may be coming.
  • Neuropsych testing was a good section, the take-home point here is that baselines are not part of best practices and that they should not be used as a clearance device, except in the case of a trained neuropsych using the information.
  • Loved the discussion on “rest”, really thought about it a lot since it came up in Zürich.  The term “rest” is so Continue reading

Muchnick’s 5 Key’s To NFL Concussions

Irvin Muchnick is a writer and investigative journalist who previously mainly focused on the WWE.  Muchnick has changed gears a bit and started Concussion Inc, a website focusing on the head injury issue.

Irv posted, via Beyond Chron, today on his five keys to the upcoming NFL season; as it relates to concussions;

1. New levels of reporting

Like sex crimes, concussions are no longer a dirty secret. The lion’s share of the credit for this goes to Chris Nowinski of the Sports Legacy Institute and Alan Schwarz of the New York Times. This year will feature the stories of players who resist rushing back to action after head injuries. How that shakes out in public perception and for their careers is worth a closer look than how close Asomugha creeps to the line of scrimmage on “bump-and-run” coverage.