Utah school district re-evaluates how it cares for athletes after concussions

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The return to learning program takes into account the difficulties they may encounter in the classroom.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Nathan Bos at the Intermountain Healthcare Concussion Conference at BYU in Provo on Friday, July 16, 2021. Intermountain Healthcare and the Alpine School District are launching an innovative concussion program called Return this fall. -to- Learn.

Provo • Nathan Bos suffered this third major concussion in as many years towards the end of his freshman year at Westlake High School during a rugby match. He already knew the symptoms intimately, but this time there was no turning back.

Bos, now 18, has been told by medics that he will never be allowed to play contact sports again. He felt the effects of this third concussion – the worst, he says – until the end of his high school years. He suffered from severe short-term memory loss and insomnia. His grades dropped. He suffered from anxiety and depression, for which he was taking medication.

Bos said he believed that if there had been a comprehensive system in place that helped students recover from concussion and regain academic and athletic shape, his teachers could have helped him instead. , as he called it, to “grab straws.”

“It was just a really bad situation,” Bos said on Friday.

But now such a system exists. Intermountain Healthcare has partnered with the Alpine School District to create the Return-to-Learn Program – a set of protocols that define the academic benchmarks a student should achieve when recovering from a concussion.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) David Tate speaks at the Intermountain Healthcare Concussion Conference at BYU in Provo on Friday, July 16, 2021. Intermountain Healthcare and the Alpine School District are launching an innovative concussion program this fall. concussions, called Return-to-Learn.

The protocols, unveiled at BYU at the inaugural Intermountain Healthcare annual concussion conference, consist of five progressive steps aimed at returning a student to full classroom presence. Steps include a Post-Concussion Symptom Scale for daily tracking of a student’s symptoms.

The Alpine School District is the first in the state to adopt the new protocols. Mickelle Bos, assistant principal of Mountain View High School and mother of Nathan, first thought about creating concussion-specific learning protocols while her son was suffering from his symptoms.

“Watching my son struggle highlighted to me the need to create a comprehensive program that would help teachers, parents and students deal with the learning challenges associated with concussions,” said Mickell Bos.

The Utah High School Activities Association has its own sports concussion policy. Individual school districts, such as Granite and Canyons, have similar policies. Coaches and teachers should receive training on concussions and their treatment.

But Mickelle Bos thinks these policies lack the academic component of recovery, which is why she began to explore the idea. She said that in Alpine high schools, more than 200 students were diagnosed with concussion. All of this, she said, was linked to athletics.

“There was definitely a missing piece,” said Mickelle Bos. “And that’s how we have to solve the problem on the academic side. “

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Mickelle Bos at the Intermountain Healthcare Concussion Conference at BYU in Provo on Friday, July 16, 2021. Intermountain Healthcare and the Alpine School District are launching an innovative concussion program this fall, called Return-to- Learn.

Two of Bos’s three concussions occurred when he was not involved in team sport. One was when he was on his bike in 7th grade. It started to rain and hit the back of a vehicle. The second was a year later while tubing in Lake Powell. He and his cousin accidentally hit their heads, causing him to break his jaw.

“Each of them made school more and more difficult,” said Bos. He added that the short-term memory loss, chronic headaches, depression and anxiety started with these injuries, only to be exacerbated when he injured his head a third time.

Darren Campbell, athletic physician at the Intermountain Utah Valley Sports Medicine Clinic, said he sees more non-sports concussions in his practice. He helped Mickelle Bos launch the new protocols at Alpine.

“As we have been dealing with concussions for some time, we have recognized the need for a multispecial approach,” said Campbell.

Campbell hosted the inaugural conference. He said he hoped other school districts in the state would adopt the protocol.

“By getting them to embrace these principles and use their educational expertise, they can really make a difference,” said Campbell. “So I would like this to be adopted by other schools. I would like it to be a state policy.



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