Efforts to prevent concussions from happening at school or school-related sports activities may help keep teens from lagging behind on their academics.
In a new study, researchers at the University of Washington found that those who had a recent concussion could be 25% more likely than classmates to be in poor academic standing.
“History of concussion was significantly associated with poor academic standing and experiencing multiple concussions could be particularly harmful on student outcomes,” according to study author Julian Takagi-Stewart, of Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center in Seattle, and colleagues.
About 2 million U.S. youth suffer a concussion each year. The researchers wanted to learn whether there was a link between a history of these temporary brain injuries and teens' academic standing.
For the study, they analyzed data on more than 10,000 teens who were part of the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System Survey, which monitors health risks among U.S. students.
In all, about 15% of high school students reported having had at least one sports and activity-related concussion during the previous year. A majority were boys. Black students made up a higher proportion (nearly 16%) of those with two or more concussions, compared with about 11% who had no concussions and 9% who had one.
In all, 79% of students said they were in good academic standing, the findings showed.
Having at least one concussion in the past year was linked with a 25% higher risk of poor academic standing. This link was stronger for students with repeated concussions, according to the report published online Sept. 12 in the journal Injury Prevention.
The researchers said several strategies could help.
“School-based injury prevention efforts, including promotion of helmet use, school screening for concussions and adherence to return-to-play and return-to-learn guidelines, to reduce multiple concussion in sports, particularly for racial and ethnic groups most affected, may prove beneficial to students with concussion,” the authors said in a journal news release.
Concussion is a temporary brain injury resulting from a blow to the head or to the body that causes the brain to move rapidly back and forth. Those who have one may lose consciousness, become dizzy, get a glazed look in the eyes, have a headache or experience amnesia.
No clear, standard guidance exists about reintegrating students with concussion back into academic work.
The researchers noted that all of the reports came from students and were not verified. The study also did not incorporate social and economic factors such as family income and where students lived.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on concussion.
SOURCE: Injury Prevention, news release, Sept. 12, 2022