Extended absences from school and other life activities after amay be detrimental to the recovery of children and young people, a recent study has found.
The study, published January 20 inanalyzed data from 1,630 children and youth ages five to 18 years performed between August 2013 and June 2015 at nine pediatric emergency departments within the Pediatric Emergency Research Canada network.
Herecommends that patients rest for 24 to 48 hours after a concussion. They should then be facilitated with physical and cognitive activities, followed by a gradual return to school with support and accommodations.
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Although there is evidence showing that early return to physical activity is beneficial for concussion recovery, there is a lack of research looking at associations between the timing of return to school and symptom recovery, the study indicated. .
The new study has confirmed that an early return to school is important for children’s recovery after concussion, according to Dr. Roger Zemek, the study’s lead author and a pediatric emergency physician at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.
“In the past, we used to think that more rest was better,” Zemek told Global News in an interview.
“This new study has confirmed that getting children back to doing the things they want, love and need to do, including school, is not only important for getting them back into their lives, but can also help with their recovery.”
Prolonged symptoms in children after a concussion can sometimes be caused by mental health issues due to social isolation, Zemek said. When kids miss school, he explained, they may fear they won’t get better or are missing out on something.
“Our idea is to get kids back to school sooner, this can avoid that negative feedback loop or that vicious circle that sometimes happens with kids getting too much rest,” he said, adding that it’s important for kids to go back or be part. of the learning process again even when they have symptoms.
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Dr. Chris Vaughan, lead author of the study and a pediatric neuropsychologist at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC, told Global News that it’s important to look specifically at how concussion recovery relates to school attendance, since School is an important part of children’s lives.
“The development of children’s brains is very important,” said Dr. Vaughan. “So anytime you have an injury that could affect that, we really need to understand what those risks are.”
He said that going to school helps with development, as it provides children with an environment to learn, socialize and be active.
“We must be careful to learn as much as we can and balance our risk avoidance with recognition of the benefits of such activity and exercise for overall health and development.”
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According to the study, older youth missed more days of school, on average, than younger youth. However, an early return to school was associated with a lower symptom burden at 14 days post-injury for patients 8-12 years of age than for those 13-18 years of age.
This implied that the younger patients actually did quite well after their concussion, with most recovering well within two weeks, Zemek said.
“So in the big picture, everyone benefits,” he said. “Those who are older benefit even more.”
The study also said that “the age difference suggests that what may clinically be considered an early return to school for an adolescent may not be an early return to school for a younger child.”
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Ultimately, Vaughan said, parents and caregivers should listen to the recommendations of the child’s treating medical providers, because many times the suggestions will be based on the child’s symptoms and recovery status.
“While some children may need to be very limited in the schoolwork they will do when they return, others may be much more capable of doing almost typical workloads, but that will vary,” he said.
Zemek said she hopes this study can help develop new guidelines based on the data and ultimately help kids return to school sooner.
“We’re not saying they necessarily need to take tests. We are not saying that we need them to do many full days at the initial time point,” she said. “But starting that social integration earlier will hopefully prevent those kids from having symptoms for months and months.”
— With files from Global’s Katherine Ward
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