Academic Impacts of Concussions for Students at Issue in House of Representatives

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International Expert from Children’s National Testifies on Effects of These Head Injuries on Developing Brains

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Adolescent brains are still developing, so it’s critical that proper healing take place before a child returns to normal activity.

An internationally recognized expert from Children’s National Medical Center testified before the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee of the United States House of Representatives today about the impact of concussions on academic performance. Gerard Gioia, PhD, directs the Safe Concussion Outcome and Recovery and Education (SCORE) Program at Children’s National and has been instrumental in developing the CDC’s materials on safe concussion management in children.

Dr. Gioia’s testimony notes a recent study at Children’s National that found that more than 80 percent of children with concussions reported a significant worsening of symptoms over the first four weeks as they attempted to return to normal school/learning activities. Half of this group continued to experience the cognitive exertional effects 6 weeks post-injury.

“Adolescent brains are still developing, so it’s critical that proper healing take place before a child returns to normal activity,” said Dr. Gioia. “In addition to keeping a student athlete off the field, it’s important to limit cognitive activities -- like school work -- to allow the brain time to heal and prevent long-term damage.”

Sometimes, the cognitive demands of school while the brain is in an impaired state can increase post-concussion symptoms. It is likely that if the brain continues to over-exert in this way during recovery, the length of recovery time will be delayed.

Dr. Gioia’s clinical work also underscores the need to ensure that schools are adequately prepared with the necessary knowledge and skills to properly support students when they return to school following a concussion. In collaboration with Dr. Gioia and others, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed a series of toolkits to help schools, coaches, and parents understand the needs of children and teens with concussions and appropriately respond.

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Contact Emily Dammeyer or Jennifer Leischer at 202-476-4500.

Children’s National Medical Center, located in Washington, DC, is a leader in the development of innovative new treatments for childhood illness and injury. Children’s has been serving the nation’s children for more than 135 years. Children’s National is consistently ranked among the best pediatric hospitals by U.S.News & World Report and the Leapfrog Group. For more information, visit http://www.ChildrensNational.org . Children’s Research Institute, the academic arm of Children’s National Medical Center, encompasses the translational, clinical, and community research efforts of the institution. Learn more about Children’s Research Institute at http://www.childrensnational.org/research .

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