Intermountain Healthcare

Return to Learn after a concussion: What new protocol means for Utah students

Intermountain Healthcare
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(GTU) – Intermountain Healthcare and the Alpine School District are launching an innovative concussion program this fall, called the Return-to-Learn Concussion Protocol.

Schools in Utah currently follow a return-to-play model that has guidelines and a process for student-athletes to return to their sport following a concussion injury and period of recovery. The new Return-to-Learn Concussion Protocol program provides new guidelines for all students who suffer concussions, to help them navigate through any academic struggles, as they heal.

The Return-to-Learn Concussion Protocol uses a daily tracker of a student’s wellbeing to determine if teachers or administrators need to make any changes to their class load for them to keep up without stressing their brain injury.

The program requires students with concussions to fill out a daily report rating their symptoms on a scale of one to six. Anyone with scores of 4 or higher may need to stop what they are doing and take a break or change up their class schedule.

At the initial onset of a concussion, a person may get headaches, nausea, dizziness, and ringing in the ears as some of the symptoms.

Darren Campbell, MD, Sports Medicine Physician at Intermountain Healthcare

Yet, there are longer symptoms that can last days many days. This can include concentration and memory problems, light sensitivity, depression, and poor sleep among them, he said.

The symptoms of a concussion can be like having a short-term learning disability. Teachers and administrators help students with learning disabilities every day, and they’re best equipped to help them get back to full academic capacity.

Darren Campbell, MD, Sports Medicine Physician at Intermountain Healthcare

The Alpine School District is the first district in the state to adopt the Return-to-Learn Concussion Protocol model which was led by Mickelle Bos, Mountain View High School Assistant Principal. She says the best part about this program is that it focuses on anyone with a concussion, not just athletes. It’s true however that student-athletes must follow a strict set of guidelines before they are allowed to resume playing. That wasn’t the case in the classroom, until now.

We’ve learned so much about the impacts of concussions, and this is another tool to make sure students can fully heal from their injuries and get the academic attention they need during the process. The Return-to-Learn program is about returning to life.

Mickelle Bos, Mountain View High School Assistant Principal. 

This new program was highlighted July 16, at the inaugural Intermountain Healthcare Concussion Conference at Brigham Young University’s Lavell Edwards Stadium, which brought together medical professionals, coaches, and athletes, to discuss the newest research and procedures showing success in treating concussions.

My son suffered three concussions when he was in school and only one was from sports. I’m hopeful this program will help all students who suffer a brain injury, so they get the right assistance to keep up in school.

Mickelle Bos, Mountain View High School Assistant Principal. 

Intermountain physicians are hopeful this type of program will be adopted in other districts around the state so students can be at their best on and off the field.

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