What to know when having suffered a concussion - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

What to know when having suffered a concussion

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

What is a school nurse supposed to do when a child has a concussion at school? Well, there is an Illinois law that requires them to follow a certain protocol.

However, local researchers discovered that isn't happening at many schools, and it could affect the child's ability to recover.

"I got my concussion playing volleyball my sophomore year. I hit my head while diving for the ball," said Madison McCarthy of Loyola Academy.

McCarthy was out for two days after her concussion, but after her return, her symptoms worsened.

"I had horrible headaches and a really messed up sleep pattern, and Dr. LaBella ended up pulling me. I missed like 40 days my sophomore year. I had to rehabilitate and heal my brain cause it was really bad," added McCarthy.

Time to heal is what doctors said is the most important factor in concussion recovery.

However, researchers at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago discovered that is not always happening. They asked more than 2,000 Illinois school nurses what they do when a student athlete has a concussion. Fifty-seven percent of schools put kids back on the field, while 30-percent put them back in the classroom.

"Brain activity in the form of doing classwork, homework, learning...can prolong recovery and make symptoms worse," said Dr. Cynthia LaBella, a pediatric physician.

Dr. LaBella treats Madison, and others like her, and is trying to stress the importance of post-concussion recovery time.

After all, a 2011 Illinois law requires schools remove kids from play immediately and keep them out of class until they've been medically cleared.

"The teachers need to be involved rather than just the athletic trainers and the coaches," said Dr. LaBella. "It's gonna take education on the part of physicians, parents and through organizations such as the CDC that has guidelines on their websites for schools."

Three years later, Madison is still on medication and has post-concussion syndrome. However, while she recovers, she spreads a message.

"If you get a concussion, do not go back until you are 100 percent positive that your brain has healed," added McCarthy.

In a separate study, researchers at Children's Hospital Wisconsin tracked more than 500 boys and girls being treated at a concussion clinic. They found the girls took about 56 days to fully recover, while boys took 34.

No one knows why, but everyone agrees that uninhibited recovery time makes a difference.

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