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Concussions Affects on Academics

Concussions do not only affect athletes but all students. Concussions can make it very hard to carry out your normal routine. Everything seems like you are in a "fog" and the harder you try concentrating the worse the headache increases. It is very hard to determine just how many students are affected by concussions in college because many are not reported or monitored. Statistics say that about every 19 seconds someone receives braintrauma in the United States, but those are only the people that report it. For the most part only athletes are monitored and documented when they have concussions. (Knights News Challenge) Athletes are often the ones that have testing done to make sure there was no permanent damage done to the brain. One of the times non-athletes get tested is when they are in vehicle accident or any other serious accident. It is often that you will hear college kids say I hit my head way hard the other night when I was out drinking. They might only think it is just a slight bump and do not worry about it. The symptoms might go away in a week because 80% of concussions last only a week. Only about 1.5% of concussions will last longer than 1 month. The symptoms will vary from person to person, but there is a few common symptoms. (Meehan, W. P)

Signs and Symptoms

  • Headache
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Slower reaction times
  • Dizziness, Light headed
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty with bright lights or loud sounds
  • Irritability
  • Changes in sleep patterns, either insomnia or sleeping more
  • Depression


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Concussions Affects on Academics

  • Drop in Grade
  • Trouble focusing
  • Blurred Vision
  • Reading is extremely hard with a bad concussion
  • It takes more time to complete simple thinking exercises
  • Trouble with memory

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These are the number of Athletes that receive concussions in a year. This means that a total of 1,186,511athletes alone have to deal with trying to be a student with a concussion. These aren't even the numbers with all of the students who aren't athletes.

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Going through the Experience

Male Experience

In November of 2012 I was one of those 1.5% that experienced a concussion that lasted longer then a month. It was not until about 1 1/2 months later that I was able to fully return to everything that I did in my life. I got the concussion during a wrestling practice when I hit heads with my wrestling partner. I was knocked out cold on impact and my limbs went limp as I fell to the mat. I do not remember this happening and the only reason I know this is from what my partner told me and everyone else that witnessed it. I could not stand being in a room with bright lights or loud noises without the severity of my headache and symptoms greatly increasing. Before my concussion I was sleeping about 8 hours a day, but after the concussion for the first week I was sleeping close to 15 hours a day. The amount of sleep I was receiving slowly declined over time as the symptoms decreased. I did not attend any of my classes or even really leave my room during the first week. I felt like my vision and perception was a couple "fog". It took me longer to process things and be able to return somewhat back to my social life. I had to contact my professors and they allowed for my homework and tests to be pushed back some. I had to hear earplugs when I slept because even the slightest noises hurt. When I returned to class if I was focusing I had to wear sunglasses for the first week to reduce the amount of light going into my eyes. This helped keep my symptoms at a minimum. I also wore earplugs to classes that were normally loud that way I could attend without lots of pain and irritation. If I did not attend these classes I would have had no idea what was going on so I would have fallen way behind in class. I could not read more than a page without a break until about a month about I got the concussion. I had to complete all of my homework and prepare for finals in 2 weeks. So I had to push my brain to the max to accomplish the significant amount of assignments that needed to be done. I had to constantly take breaks and try to stay away from things that bothered me. I took my test in a special area that the college provided me that didn't increase any of my symptoms. I had to file paperwork for one of my classes that allowed me a couple weeks into the next semester to complete the assignments or else I would fail that class. Even towards the end of my concussion when I was reading it was common that all the words would blend together and become a big ball of writing that I could not read. This would hurt my head very bad and when this happened I would often have to take a longer break than I was taking. I would have to meet with trainers or doctors regularly for check ups and to make sure I was progressing. No one thought that my concussion was very severe at first and that is why I only had a CT Scan. Another set back I had was a nurse prescribed my an anti seizure medicine that was supposed to help, but it only severely worsened the affects. I was very skeptical about taking the medicine because I have had concussion before and knew there was no medicine for it.

Female Experience

I also conducted an interview with a female who was a freshman in high school when she got her concussion. Strangely enough she got her concussion from colliding with me in a pick up football game.
"Sports: I was out for three weeks and then I was behind skill wise when I cam back, so I had to work to get back up to my teammates' standards.
Academics: I had to put a bookmark under the line that I was reading because I had trouble focusing on things and there were times where I had to have people read to me (embarrassing). When doing homework I couldn't handle any noise because that made it harder to focus. In math I had to work out math problems that the week before I could look at and solve in my head. I couldn't understand lessons when normally I'd catch on right away and I had to spend more time on my homework.
Personality: It's natural for concussion victims to cry and I took things personal. When coaches would talk to me it was like a personal insult. I was just really mentally weak, which Paige a girl on my team, said she went through when she got her concussion the year after me. The little things would make us cry."

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Tests

ImPACT Baseline Test- A online neurological test. It tests reaction time and memory. (If still concussed it will show slower reaction times and increase symptoms) The test will take about 20 minutes and is used throughout the country to test for concussions.

  • CT scan- This is used to see if there is any brain damage.




What it is like to get a Concussion






Information

Most concussions will only last about one weeks time. Symptoms may go away very quick and you will be able to return to normal activities. A second concussion before the first concussion is healed is very bad. This is often when permanent damage is caused because your brain was still healing from the first concussion. This is referred to by many as the second impact syndrome. It is common that people will not notice that they have a until sometime after the incident. This is because the body is being pumped with so much adrenaline and other hormones that covers the symptoms. Once the body returns back to normal this is when the symptoms become noticeable. After having the first concussion it is easier to receive another concussion from lesser blows to the head. (Trudel, T.) There is no way to tell if you are fully healed, so you need to be very careful with monitoring your symptoms and easing back in to your normally activities. Do not rush back into your regular activities before you are fully healed because you only have one brain, so you need to take care of it. A head injury is something that you should just go through the pain and continue. Taking care of yourself by eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and reducing environments that increase the symptoms these are the fastest ways to recover.

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The Biological Affect of a Concussion

It is very hard to determine exactly what parts of the brain are damaged or bruised during a concussion because a lot of variables play into it. Different parts of the brain will be affected depending on where and how the person receives the trauma. The symptoms will start to reside once the bruising heals up. The longer the concussion last it becomes more likely that some of the neurological connections in the brain were damaged or rewired. If you are having trouble with you vision it is likely that your occipital lobe is not fully healed. If you are having trouble concentrating and making very easy decision it is likely that your frontal lobe was damaged. The irritation that you get from sound is caused from damage to your temporal lobe. These are just a few examples of why you experience some of the symptoms. It is common for most of the brain to be bruised and cause these symptoms the first couple days of a concussion. (Leonard, C. M.) There has not been as much research on the areas of the brain during concussions in the sense if it rewired itself or how it heals. The only way really that the biological affects can be monitored are through CT Scans and MRI's. There has been an increase study in C.T.E., which is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, in professional sports as more former athletes are struggling to live their lives normally because of repeated head trauma throughout their career. Hopefully through the studies of the brains in athletes treatments will improve and accommodations will be made for students that receive a concussion. (Knights News Challenge)











References
Trudel, T. (2010). Evaluation After Tramatic Brain Injury. Exceptional Parent, 40(6), 24.

Minah Suh; Rachel Kolster; Ranjeeta Sarkar; Bruce McCandliss; Jamshid, G. (n.d). Deficits in predictive smooth pursuit after mild traumatic brain injury. 401108-113.

Meehan, W. P., d'Hemecourt, P., & Dawn Comstock, R. R. (2010). High School Concussions in the 2008-2009 Academic Year. American Journal Of Sports Medicine, 38(12), 2405-2409. doi:10.1177/0363546510376737

Katie, C. (n.d). A discussion on concussions. Washington Post, The.

Leonard, C. M., Low, P., Jonczak, E. E., Schmutz, K. M., Siegel, L. S., & Beaulieu, C. (2011). Brain Anatomy, Processing Speed, and Reading in School-Age Children. Developmental Neuropsychology, 36(7), 828-846. doi:10.1080/87565641.2011.606398

Cantu, Robert. (2012) Concussions and Our Kids. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Knights News Challenge. Concussion Central: Brain Injuries in College Football. Retrieved from
https://www.newschallenge.org/challenge/healthdata/feedback/concussion-central-brain-injuries-in-college-football