British Columbia

New concussion tool for teachers helps youth recover

Teachers across Canada can now get advice from a new program to help students returning to school after a concussion.

After a head injury, ordinary things at school can bring back concussion symptoms

After a head injury, even loud noises on the playground can bring back concussion symptoms. (Doug Ives/Canadian Press)

Teachers across Canada now have a new tool to help detect the signs of a concussion, and the lingering heath issues that can follow.

The online Concussion Awareness Training Tool was developed by sports injury specialist Dr. Shelina Babul at B.C. Children's Hospital.

"There's nothing like this out there," Babul said in an interview.

Stimulation from other students in the classroom, loud noises on the playground and the stress of school work can trigger symptoms including headaches, dizziness and confusion, Babul said.

The resource provides recommendations on how to help students who suffer blows to the head, often from sports such as football, soccer and hockey.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, shown in this file photo, talks about his concussion. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

The site, which includes videos with stars such as hockey player Sidney Crosby, also features an 11-year-old boy named Christian, who describes the difficulty of returning to school.

 "I hurt my brain last year," he says.

"I missed my friends but when I came back things were different. It was harder to concentrate and get my work done. I got frustrated a lot."

Be cautious after injury

Babul said parents and coaches should err on the side of caution after a child's head is hit or a concussion is suspected.

"Do not allow that individual to play for several days because signs and symptoms can appear subtly. A lot of times you'll see a coach or a parent pull their kid off to the sideline, they seem fine and they're put back in the game."

Symptoms such as headaches, nausea and sensitivity to noise and light can occur immediately or after several hours or days, she said.

Dr. Shelina Babul with B.C. Children's Hospital shares some facts and figures about concussions. (CBC News)

"The new and emerging signs are showing that after that a little bit of slow integration back to activity may not be a bad thing because we were finding that complete rest, or the previous protocol to keep the person in a dark room, leads to other ailments or other conditions such as anxiety, depression, sadness or sleeping too much."

The website, which was developed with funding from B.C.'s Health Ministry, Child Health BC and the BC Children's Foundation, initially provided concussion training for medical professionals in 2013.

There are currently no figures on how many children suffer concussions across Canada, in any given year.

Canada's Minister of Sport, Carla Qualtrough, has said she will be working with federal Health Minister Jane Philpott to create a national education and management strategy to better manage policies around concussions among youth and professional athletes.

With files from the CBC's The Early Edition and Jason D'Souza

To hear the full story listen to the audio labelled: New concussion tool for teachers helps youth recover.