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Social and Emotional Support for Students with Persistent Concussion Symptoms

Elana R. Bernstein Ph.D., NCSP
Clinical Faculty
School Psychology Program
University of Dayton

Susan C. Davies
Associate Professor
School Psychology Program
University of Dayton

Concussions can result in a constellation of cognitive, physical, emotional, social, and sleep-related symptoms (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). While most symptoms dissipate in one to two weeks, 15-30% of children experience symptoms lasting three months or longer (Babcock et al., 2013). Often, these are social and emotional symptoms, which can adversely affect students’ relationships, mental health, and academic performance. Furthermore, key stakeholders (i.e., students, parents, coaches, etc.) demonstrate notable knowledge gaps with regard to the social-emotional symptoms associated with concussion (Kim, Leeman, Connaughton, & Lee, 2018).

With support from the Ohio Department of Public Safety, Division of Emergency Medical Services, our research team conducted qualitative interviews with students who sustained mTBIs and experienced significant social and emotional symptoms; we also interviewed their parents. We analyzed this data to: 1) clarify the social and emotional issues experienced by students who sustained mTBIs, 2) identify school-based strategies for ameliorating social and emotional difficulties associated with mTBIs, and 3) develop training resources for school-based mental health professionals.

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