Tuesday, October 29th, 2013
The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that kids who suffer a concussion, a common sports-related injury, shouldn’t return to school right away, lest they exacerbate the temporary symptoms of concussion that relate to learning and retaining information. More from Time.com:
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Although children may appear to be physically normal after having a concussion, they may actually have trouble learning new information and retaining it. Going back to school may exacerbate these symptoms, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in a new clinical report presented at the AAP National Conference & Exhibition in Orlando.
Research shows that it takes about three weeks for a child to fully recover from a concussion. If their symptoms are especially severe, they should stay home from school. Even though kids with concussions may appear asymptomatic, they often report difficulty focusing on schoolwork and taking tests, especially in math, science, and foreign-languages. Medical experts are worried that too much learning stimulation can overwhelm a brain that is still recovering, and make it even more difficult for a child to get back on track. If systems are mild, parents can consider sending their kids back to class, but should inform teachers about the concussion so adjustments can be made to the pace of the class if needed. The researchers call this necessary step, “cognitive rest.”
Wednesday, October 9th, 2013
Body mass index (BMI) standards can be misleading for athletic students whose bodies are in excellent condition, but higher in muscle mass. One 11-year-old Naples, Florida girl learned this when her school sent home a letter warning her parents that she was in danger of becoming overweight; Lilly Grasso is a star volleyball player and has a healthy lifestyle. More on the letter, and her parents’ reaction, from Today.com:
The letter claimed that Lilly’s body mass index, or BMI, was 22 and she was at risk for being overweight. The 11-year-old star volleyball player carries 124 pounds on an athletic frame of 5’3” and eats healthy foods.
“It says that and tells you to go to their website and the at risk turns to Lilly is overweight,” Grasso said on TODAY.
She believes her daughter is a healthy weight and the Florida Department of Public Health in Collier County made a mistake by sending what’s known by some as a “fat letter” home with her daughter. She thinks that children might feel bad by being labeled as overweight or fat, even if they are healthy.
But, Deb Millsap, public information officer of the Collier County Health Department, and Joan Colfer, MD, MPH, director of the Florida Department of Public Health, Collier County told TODAY that while the letters are sent home with the students, they are in sealed envelopes addressed to the parents. Students can open the letters, but that means they are reading their parents mail.
The letter included BMI—which uses height and weight to determine if someone is within a healthy range—and information on how students’ vision and hearing are and if they are at risk for scoliosis. The data comes from a regular screening process that occurs when students in are kindergarten, first, third, and sixth grades. Florida is one of 21 states that have laws requiring BMI screenings. Millsap said the health department is currently in the middle of screenings for this school year, but last year the department tested 13,454 children. About 25 percent had possible vision issues, less than 1 percent had possible hearing problems, 2 percent had scoliosis, and 43 percent had BMI issues, either above or below normal numbers. Parents can opt out of the screening for their children, but Millsap and Colfer said not many parents do.
“We do not want kids to have self-esteem issues,” said Millsap. “Right on [the] letter it says sports may impact the results.”
Athletic children and adults might have a higher BMI because they have more muscle mass. BMI provides a rubric for doctors to work with, but does not provide an entire picture of a person’s health.
“Because of the obesity crisis, we have to have some tool. The CDC will say [BMI] is not perfect,” Colfer told TODAY. “These are simply screen tests, it is not a diagnosis.”
Image: Girls playing volleyball, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, May 8th, 2012
Thirteen-year-old Keeling Pilaro, who played field hockey for years as a child in Ireland, is facing a rare struggle in school sports–he wants to continue to play the sport, which in the U.S. is generally played only by girls, but he has been told he can’t because he’s “too skilled.” MSNBC.com has more:
Keeling’s fight appears to be a rare example of a young man seeking to take advantage of Title IX, a 40-year-old law enacted to provide women equal access to athletic opportunities. There are no boys’ high school field hockey teams anywhere on Long Island, or, for that matter, in most of the country.
“It’s really annoying,” the eighth-grader said in a recent interview. “I’m just 4-foot-8 and 82 pounds, so I don’t see why I shouldn’t be allowed to play. I don’t really care if I’m on a girls’ team or a boys’ team, I just want to play.”
Southampton school administrators agree, but they don’t have the final say.
“The decision to support him represents our commitment to provide meaningful opportunities to each of our students,” Superintendent Dr. J. Richard Boyes said in a statement. “Our community, including the girls on our field hockey team, embraced Keeling Pilaro and we couldn’t be more proud of him.”
The problem, according to Edward Cinelli, the director of the organization that oversees high school athletics in Suffolk County, is that state education law won’t allow it. He cited a provision that says administrators are permitted to bar boys from girls’ teams if a boy’s participation “would have a significant adverse effect” on a girl’s opportunity to participate in interschool competition in that sport. Officials say Keeling’s skills are superior to the girls he plays against, creating an unfair advantage.
Image: Field hockey stick and ball, via Shutterstock.
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Monday, August 1st, 2011
The Boston Globe is reporting on new rules in Massachusetts aimed at protecting schoolchildren from potentially serious head injuries that can come on the football field or during other sports activities. An estimated 136,000 concussions occur in the course of high school sports each year in the United States, the article stated. The National Federation of State High School Associations has a training program specifically on concussions and head injuries, training coaches (who are then urged to train their student-athletes) to recognize slurred speech, confusion, nausea, fatigue, or dizziness as symptoms of a concussion.
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Under a law passed by the Legislature last year, everyone involved with school teams – coaches, volunteers, players, parents, and other officials – must be trained annually in how to recognize concussions and get the appropriate care for students who suffer one.
Any student suspected of having a concussion now must be removed from play immediately and cleared by a doctor before returning. The law also calls for students diagnosed with a concussion to have a written plan for gradually returning to both athletics and academics.
What exactly is a concussion? It is not a bruise on the brain. Nor does it involve swelling or bleeding. A concussion can occur when an athlete collides with another player, a goal post, or the ground, causing the brain to rattle or twist in the skull.
That prompts what is referred to as a “metabolic cascade,’’ a series of changes in which the brain’s nerve cells stop functioning as they should and blood flow is slowed. The process is not fully understood, in large part because researchers aren’t able to probe the brains of people who have suffered a concussion. And the effects are not visible on imaging tools, such as CT scans or MRIs.
If a person rests properly – meaning no physical activity beyond walking, and little cognitive activity – the brain can recover in almost all instances, said Dr. Robert Cantu, a Boston University professor of neurosurgery who has been studying concussions and advocating for better prevention among athletes for decades.
But if a concussed athlete keeps playing and suffers further trauma to the head, the situation becomes very different.