From a head-on collision during football practice to falling down the stairs and accidently hitting your head, there are many ways students can receive a concussion. A recent 2018 study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasizes the commonality of concussions, with their figures projecting that 15% of U.S. high school students, or about 2.5 million teenagerss, have reportedly sustained one or more concussions that year. There is substantial information that indicates an increasing prevalence of traumatic brain injuries in students’ lives. Further investigation reveals that among those 2.5 million affected teens, 1 million are teenage athletes who report two or more concussions, therefore illustrating an even higher likelihood of teenage athletes suffering a concussion (30%). Generally speaking, according to MayoClinic, concussions are brain injuries caused by a mild blow to the head, either coinciding with or without a loss of consciousness and are usually self-diagnosable by identifying common symptoms such as headache, confusion, lack of coordination, memory loss, nausea and dizziness–just to name a few. On a more anatomical level, an individual suffers a concussion when a sudden acceleration or deceleration is inflicted upon the victim by means of a violent blow to the head. This leads to the force being distributed in the form of vibrations to the upper body, simultaneously causing your brain to slide back and forth while colliding against the inner walls of your skull. At a time when adolescence can be described by many neurologists as the most significant time of growth inside the teenage brain, characterized by the development of the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala, which controls decision making and impulses, teenagers simply cannot afford to sustain major damage brain damage as a result of a precedent concussion or suffer long term effects that can potentially hinder a student’s ability to perform well in school.

As someone who has previously suffered from a concussion and is able to provide a first-hand account of the difficulties I was confronted with in a classroom environment, without a doubt, the long term effects of a concussion are dangerously real and enormously detrimental to a student’s life. Despite the diagnosis of my symptoms being categorized as concurrent with those of mild injuries, I immediately noticed both subtle and major changes from everything ranging to my work ethic to my ability to pay attention in class, and this continued for almost five weeks after the day of the incident. Throughout the month, I suffered from post-traumatic headaches that on occasion would be onset by flashing lights or loud noises, which would greatly impede my ability to listen to lectures and take notes.  Furthermore, I was advised by my doctor to stay away from bright screens, such as television, computers, and videogames, which I unfortunately discovered would immensely heighten the pain of my headaches. Combined with the pressures of schoolwork and exams during an exceptionally difficult junior year, the long-term effects proved to be evident in the form of a slow decline in my grades. On the other hand, from the perspective of an athlete, I found it heartbreaking to be forced to resign from the swim team even though I found myself agreeing with the district’s policy for athletes to obtain medical documentation that would allow for them to return to their sport and attain a passing score on the concussion test, which all athletes had to partake in at the beginning of their season.

In the long run, my advice for readers would be to make every effort to inform teachers and faculty of your situation so that measures can be taken to cater and support the difficulties that arise from suffering a concussion.