Editor’s Note: Read part one of this two part series: Progression from Concussion to Classroom With Occupational Therapy
By Erin Ingvalson, Speech Clinical Educator - Rehabilitation Therapies
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury. It’s caused by a blow to the head or body, a fall, or another injury that jars or shakes the brain inside the skull. Following a concussion, your child may experience physical symptoms including headache, dizziness, fatigue, and balance or vision problems.
In addition, your child might experience cognitive symptoms such as slow or foggy thinking, difficulty concentrating, and memory problems. Those physical and cognitive symptoms can make it challenging to return to school following a concussion. You and your child might notice increased difficulties with language needed to participate in class activities and interact with teachers and peers.
Specific difficulties your child might have at school include:
- Struggling to make it through an entire day of school
- Difficulty concentrating or paying attention
- Difficulty learning new information
- Difficulty understanding or remembering directions
- Difficulty understanding or remembering what he or she has read
- Difficulty coming up with words or losing a train of thought in conversation
- Difficulty organizing thoughts for writing
If your child is experiencing any of those difficulties, a speech and language pathologist can help. Our team at Gillette is made up of experts who help children and their families manage cognitive symptoms that affect language and communication. We also work with your child’s team to help ensure a successful return to school following a concussion.
Your visit with a speech and language pathologist includes a thorough history of your child’s development and challenges following injury. We’ll provide testing to identify specific problems and, if necessary, develop an individualized care plan to target areas of concern. If ongoing speech therapy is recommended, your therapist will target the following:
- Recovery of skills. We might have your child participate in computer and board games targeting speech and language skills (for example, if your child is having difficulties coming up with words during conversation or having difficulties following directions)
- Compensation strategies when symptoms are present. We might teach your child how to know when the body needs rest and when to take a break (for example, if activities such as reading are causing headaches or frustration).
- Recommendations to ensure a successful return to school. Regular communication with your child’s school staff—through phone calls and/or email—is essential to making sure that your child can transfer skills learned in therapy to an environment like school.