Seeking to empower students with knowledge of how to identify, react to and prevent concussions, the NFHS has partnered with the Arizona Barrow Neurological Institute to launch “Concussion for Students,” a free online course through the NFHS Learning Center.
“Concussion for Students,” presented as a social media conversation, details how students learn about concussions from four varying perspectives. Featuring current high school students and medical professionals, the goal of the course is to help students better identify concussion signs and symptoms so they can quickly get help for themselves or others.
“We believe that concussion education is going to be a requirement, and certainly a recommendation, for students who participate in our programs, specifically the contact sports,” said Dan Schuster, NFHS director of educational services. “It’s critically important for the students to understand how a concussion affects them – both short term and long term. Maybe more importantly, it’s vital for them to understand
how a concussion affects their peers. Whether they’re on their team or cheering them on, it’s important to understand the consequences of returning to play or to school before a concussion heals.”
The NFHS Learning Center’s first free course, “Concussion in Sports,” paved the way for the “Concussion for Students” course. “Concussion in Sports” launched in May 2010 and has had more than 2.8 million viewings in that time; however, Schuster said it didn’t necessarily relate to students.
“We recognize that in high school competition, students may not be able to remove themselves from competition because of adrenaline or being in the moment,” Schuster said. “But a teammate or best friend may be able to step in and say, ‘I know that Johnny’s not quite right.’ With this education, they know the symptoms well enough to know to seek help.”
The foundation for the “Concussion for Students” course came from the Barrow Brainbook, an online module that all Arizona high school athletes are required to complete and pass before athletic participation. The Barrow Brainbook was designed by Dr. Javier Cárdenas and the Barrow Neurological Institute in coordination with the Arizona Cardinals and the Arizona Interscholastic Association.
Dr. Cárdenas, who created the Barrow Concussion and Brain Injury Center and is a member of the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC), appears in the online course, helping inform students of concussion signs and symptoms.
Schuster said one of the most important lessons presented by the “Concussion for Students” course is its definition. A common misconception is that an individual can only receive a concussion when knocked unconscious or takes a hard blow to the head.
“In anything that we do in our daily lives there’s potential for a fall,” Schuster said. “We see them happen, whether it’s in band, choir, or on a court and field. It certainly happens in other sports and activities than traditional contact sports. You may bump into a teammate or another student; you may fall off the stand in choir; or you may slip and fall while on stage. We see these kind of accidents – simply accidents – that aren’t necessarily blows to the head or body that can happen anywhere, anytime and in any activity, so we all should know what a concussion is and how to recognize its signs and symptoms.”
Since it launched in July, “Concussion for Students” has received more than 26,000 viewings from students nationwide. Similar to Arizona with the Barrow Brainbook, the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) requires its student-athletes to take “Concussion for Students.” Of the 26,000 viewings, Florida is responsible for more than 11,000.
In the past year, NFHS Learn has launched three student-specific courses. In addition to “Concussion for Students,” the “Captains Course” and “Social Media for Students” are courses developed to provide students with helpful knowledge that can be applied to education-based activities sponsored by the NFHS.
For more information on concussion education and the NFHS Learning Center, visit www.NFHSLearn.com.
Cody Porter is a graphic arts/communications assistant in the NFHS Publications/Communications Department.