Kudos to Trinity Christian Academy in Addison Texas. This school serves as a great example of how to strategically handle the aftermath of concussion among young athletes.

You may have heard the recent NPR story on this subject. For those who didn’t, here’s the condensed version.

A Trinity football player suffered a concussion during a game. For weeks after, he complained that his stomach hurt. He was tired all the time and felt pressure in his head. His doctor gave him some wise advice: No school, no football, no friends or electronics as long as these symptoms continue. The player was also told to be in a dark room and literally, “do nothing.”

It took two weeks for his symptoms to resolve. When he did return to school, he only attended part time. His return was planned. This kind of academic rehabilitation program is a strategy all schools should embrace.

As a physician who is also certified in concussion management, I agree with other brain specialists that a “planned return” is the best way for athletes to heal after a concussion. And because all concussions are unique, there is no universal time line for healing. Some brain injuries resolve in a few days. Others, like the Trinity athlete, may take weeks. The point is, a tailored plan for each individual player is the best plan.

Concussion awareness has increased dramatically, and we’ve come a long way from the days when a player was knocked unconscious, woke up and went right back onto the field. But we still have to learn a little more. As I mentioned, every head injury is different. They don’t all require a specific period of rest. But they all do require individual, professional diagnosis, treatment and management.

Trinity Christian Academy has adopted a customized approach. The school coordinates with doctors, parents and teachers to ensure that every student returns to the classroom when they are ready. The school has publicly taken a stand on concussions and stated its goal: To get their students back to where they were before the brain injury, recognizing that the path will be different for every single student.

That’s groundbreaking. All schools should consider this approach and create a “planned return” for their students. It accomplishes the education community’s two chief priorities – to keep students safe and healthy – and ensure academic excellence.

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