For both students and faculty at Westwood High School, concussions present many challenges during the school day. Heavy brain trauma from a concussion makes it so that students are limited in what they can do. Often, the recovery period can be lengthy and difficult depending on the severity of the injury. The faculty is responsible for helping those with concussions to keep up with the coursework through this time.
Senior Conor Walsh is someone who has dealt with concussion-like symptoms multiple times throughout his four years at WHS. Walsh said, “The way I think of it is you are starving and need something to eat, but when you go to the fridge there is nothing there. It’s like you are trying to use something (your brain) that isn’t there for you.”
For students with concussions, there are specific accommodations in the classroom to help them have a smooth recovery. The most common accommodation is a decreased workload to allow the student to recover and resume normal coursework. In addition to this, screen time must be limited as the light from a computer screen can cause discomfort and pain for someone with a concussion. Whiteboards can have a similar effect and limiting time looking at a whiteboard can be important. Walsh mentioned that the fluorescent lighting that makes up most of the school trigger a headache, which makes the school day feel longer.
For faculty, on the other hand, concussions present challenges because there are many regulations when it comes to dealing with concussed students. For Karen Poreda, the resident school nurse, concussions are one of the most common ailments students come to her with. Poreda said, “Students come to me every single day with concussion related symptoms. Each student requires different levels of care due to varying symptoms.” Poreda also touched on the challenges of computer and phone screens. She said, “With many classes primarily using Chromebooks or online resources to complete the coursework, concussions have become even more significant. When screen time is limited, students often have trouble keeping up with all of their work. They are then left with weeks of make-up work after they have recovered.” Poreda and Athletic Trainer, Paul Lilla, work together to make sure that students are given the necessary space to be able to recover. They both follow strict regulations set by the U.S. Government on how to help students with concussions.
These regulations are somewhat new to Westwood High School and public schools in general. They are making the world of concussion recovery drastically different.