Carl Bosch wonders why he’s suddenly seeing more concussions than crutches wandering the hallways.
I used to joke that if I had a dollar for every tear that was shed in my guidance office, I’d be a rich man. Now I think I’d like to find another method to make my money. If I had a choice, I’d choose crutches. Schools always have students who are absent for one reason or another, but in the vast majority of cases it’s mostly the common cold or flu or other typical ailments. Nowadays, it seems like breaking something is the “in” illness.
At times in the last year or so, we’ve had so many students who can’t use the stairs that our school elevator looks like the Macy’s elevators on Black Friday. Our nurse sends out weekly, sometimes daily, e-mails to let us know who’s on the “elevator use list.” More kids have to leave class early and come a bit late to avoid the hallway crowds than ever before. Whether it’s twisted ankles, broken legs with casts, broken toes, or other foot ailments, we could rent crutches by the gross. Every week there’s someone new among the barely-walking wounded. Are youngsters just more accident prone than they were in the past? Are the competitive sports that much rougher? Is the training too hard, rough, or demanding? I know that a fair number of injuries, especially wrists and ankles, can be laid at the altar of that nasty culprit, the skateboard. The boys railslide and tailslide, ollie, rollie, kickflip, and grind. Then somewhere on their third attempt to land a jump they haven’t perfected, they end up with a very nice fiberglass red or blue cast, signed by every single one of their friends. They tell stories of their mishaps as if they were in the Jackass movies.
Despite all the other accidents, mishaps, and injuries that students seem to find, the one that is jumping out like it was just discovered yesterday is the concussion. I don’t know what it is about 12-14 year old kids, both boys and girls, but they seem to collect concussions like badges. A ski accident here, a fall there, a football mistake, a skateboarding crash, there are more walking-wounded, post-concussion-syndrome students lately than in my previous 35 years put together. Maybe we just didn’t recognize them. Certainly concussions are in the press everywhere.
Several of my students have suffered concussions and gone through a computerized evaluation called the ImPACT test. This test measures memory loss and speed. It’s used by the NHL, NFL, MLB, hundreds of colleges, and thousands of high schools. My students who suffer from concussions almost universally fail the test. The problem is that you’re supposed to have a pre-test first, then after a possible concussion, you take the test again for comparison. Without the baseline, who knows how an individual’s score should read? What if you might have scored poorly when you first took the pre-test? Some of these kids should never play a sport again or even walk outdoors considering how long their post-concussive syndrome lasts. And it’s for real.
It’s easy to get hurt and hard to stay well. I’m glad my own daughters participated in and enjoyed swimming and cross country. And reading.
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