Concussion Information for All FCCPS Parents and Students
Falls Church City Public Schools seeks to work closely with students and families when a head injury/concussion occurs. A concussion can occur at any age, and this information is for students and parents in all the Falls Church City Schools. A partnership among the student, parents/guardians, school staff, athletic trainer, and outside medical providers is necessary for clear communication and guidance for each individual student's recovery process.
FCCPS requests that parents provide a completed and signed ACE (Acute Concussion Evaluation) Care Plan or concussion plan provided by their child's provider to guide care and put appropriate accommodations in school. When a concussion occurs, the FCCPS Concussion Management Team, (student's school counselor, Public Health Nurse, and Athletic Trainer) provide information to faculty and staff about the plan of care. Concussion recovery involves re-evaluation and the student is considered to have a concussion until the student is cleared by his/her medical provider.
If your child sustains a concussion, please inform the school as soon as possible. All information and medical documentation should be forwarded to your child's school counselor to start the process. Each concussion, recovery process, and the timeline is different.
Each concussion recovery plan will be individualized. However, the following recommendations are standard for all students of all ages who suffer from a head injury and are designed to help speed the recovery. Parents/guardians may need to encourage and monitor adherence to these recommendations at home. Concussion information can also be found on the FCCPS website.
- Avoid physical activity. See Physical Activity and Athletic Participation below.
- Be sure to get enough sleep. Go to bed early. Keep the same bedtime on weekdays and weekends.
- Stay hydrated. Drink lots of fluids and eat carbohydrates and proteins. The brain requires additional glucose as it heals from a concussion, so supplementing fluid intake with fruit juices or fruit, aids the healing process.
- Take daytime rest breaks if you feel fatigued or the onset of a headache.
- Limit activities that require a lot of concentration, especially if they make the symptoms worse. See Academic Participation below.
- Avoid prolonged computer/screen use, including video games, television watching, text messaging, etc.
- During recovery, it is normal to feel frustrated and sad when you do not feel right and you cannot be as active as usual. Be patient with yourself. The situation is temporary.
- Be aware of symptoms and changes in symptoms and be vocal about them.
Because recovering from a concussion can be a gradual process and school work continues while recovery is taking place, it is necessary for students, parents, and school staff to be aware of and consider the following symptoms that a student may demonstrate during recovery. The symptoms vary from student to student. These symptoms are normal, to be expected, and temporary.
- Increased difficulty in paying attention or concentrating
- Increased problems remembering or learning new information
- Longer time needed to complete tasks or assignments
- Greater irritability, less able to cope with stress
- Headaches and fatigue that worsens when doing school work
Academic accommodations are student-specific and a concussion recovery plan could include any of the following:
- Rest at home, at the direction of a medical doctor, with a return date provided
- No recess
- No music/band or band with only fingering the instrument
- A shortened day or modified schedule, as indicated
- Limited screen time
- Extra time to complete coursework, homework, assignments, tests
- Coordination of exams - such as no more than one per day, every other day, etc.
- Access to classroom notes
- Scheduled rest breaks
- Unlimited access to the Health Room when symptoms occur during the school day
Field Trip Participation
If a student is receiving academic and/or activity accommodations related to a concussion care plan, the student may only participate in a field trip after receiving approval from a FCCPS' athletic trainer.
See School Board Policy - JJAC - Student-Athlete Concussions During Extracurricular Activities
Physical Activity and Athletic Participation
Once diagnosed with a concussion, it is important to avoid physical activity that carries a risk of another head injury. The likelihood of sustaining a second head injury is greater during the recovery phase of a concussion. Rapid or early return to sports and play puts a student at risk for Second Impact Syndrome which can lead to severe and possibly fatal outcomes. Therefore, it is necessary to follow recommendations for returning to sports/play. A student should not return to play while symptomatic. It is better to miss one game than the whole season. It is far better to prevent further injury. Student-athletes participating in FCCPS sports that carry a significant risk for head injury take a baseline concussion test prior to starting their season. If during the course of sports participation, a student-athlete sustains a head injury or concussion, the Athletic Trainer will administer post-injury concussion tests to monitor the progress of the student's concussion recovery and to guide decisions regarding return to physical activity and sports participation. The medically prescribed Return To Participation (RTL) protocol is also implemented as a means of safely re-introducing the concussed athlete to physical activity and sports participation. Students and parents are required to complete the online training/education module as well.
When to know when a Concussion is an Emergency
Regular and close monitoring for the first 24 to 48 hours after the concussion is important. Experts advise that if a child experiences any of the following signs of deteriorating mental status, take him or her to the hospital immediately:
- Is very drowsy or can't be awakened (woken up)
- Can't recognize people or places
- Is vomiting
- Behaves unusually, seems confused or very irritable
- Has slurred speech
- Experiences seizures (arms and legs jerk uncontrollably)
- Has weak or numb arms or legs or is unsteady on their feet