A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that can change the way the brain normally works. Seventy percent of concussions occur without direct head impact but instead from rotational or velocity injuries that cause the brain to move quickly back and forth (Neurosurgery 2003; 4:799). Each year, emergency departments in the United States treat an estimated 173,285 sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), including concussions, among children and adolescents, from birth to 19 years (CDC 2014)
Concussions may affect a student's ability to learn. Because every brain and every student are different, every concussion is different. Recovery time will be unique to each student, requiring an individualized approach to determine when it is appropriate to begin to return to athletic activity and regular classes. Some students may not miss any school and may need accommodations no greater than for someone who has suffered a minor illness. Others may have months of enduring symptoms that can significantly affect academic performance and overall ability to function. Mental and physical rest are essential to concussion recovery. If not properly managed from the time of initial injury, recovery time can be extended and the student may be exposed to increased risk of further injury and also adversely affect the student's academic progress. Therefore, it is essential to have a concussion education plan in place to help concussed students heal while continuing their education.
Concussions are both a medical and an educational issue. Any accommodations created by schools are based on an educational need that happens to be caused by a medical concern. Assessing challenges with learning and school performance and creating or making changes to a student's learning plan, while driven by medical diagnoses, are based on the impact on the student's educational performance and ability to access and participate in general education. Therefore, it is appropriate for schools to address learning difficulties caused by a concussion.