In her two decades of experience in the field of school psychology, Susan Davies, associate professor of counselor education and human services, has seen the consequences of concussions left unaddressed.
After sustaining a brain injury, students may experience learning and behavioral difficulties, she said, but "because educators weren't often well-trained in identifying and understanding brain injuries, these students were not receiving the school-based supports and services they needed in order to be successful."
"Concussions aren't just a sports thing; educators often don't make the link between a child’s fall from the monkey bars and her lack of attention in a kindergarten class." Her mission? To use her research to educate those who work in schools — as well as the parents and students themselves — to identify injuries, acknowledge their myriad impacts and create a community of care to help the students return to learn. In addition to authoring Managing Concussions in Schools: A Guide to Recognition, Response, and Leadership, Davies offers training, sponsored by the Ohio Department of Health, that school-based professionals and health care providers can take back to their schools.
"My strategy with schools for concussion cases is helping them understand that if they have the right supports and adjustments to the workload and academic environments in place, those kids can get better in a few days or weeks," Davies said. "On the other hand, if students come back to an educational environment that is not understanding their unique needs, it can really do some physical damage and prolong their recovery."
Although managing traumatic brain injury in school settings has been Davies' area of research for more than 10 years, she's seen an uptick in interest during the last five with the national attention on sports-related concussions. "But you can't forget about these kids who've fallen, been in fights or been in car accidents. Concussions aren't just a sports thing," she said, adding that educators often don't make the link between a child’s fall from the monkey bars and her lack of attention in a kindergarten class.