LPS takes closer look at concussions

By: Lauren Fabrizi

In 2007, Theresa Sedivy and her ex-partner were in a bad car accident that left Sedivy with a severe traumatic brain injury.

“I died in Creighton’s ER actually, my heart stopped,” Sedivy said. “I was in a coma for 20 days.”

Sedivy has poor short-term memory and lacks normal nerve function on her left side. Now as an AmeriCorps mentor, she wants to help children with brain injuries. She attended a Lincoln Public Schools public meeting Tuesday that specifically talked about concussions.

“It’s in the news, but it’s more in the NFL, athletics,” Cindy Brunken, supervisor of the LPS Speech-Language Pathology Program, said.  “We want folks to know we’re working on it in the schools, and that it does impact kids and their learning.”

LPS has recently started to put new plans in place. All schools in the district are now required to report a total number of concussions each year. Last year, that number was around 400, about 1 percent of the district’s student population. More than half were sports–related.

“That’s more than I thought it would be,” Brunken said. “I knew there would be a lot, but to see the data really tells you.”

Teachers are also being taught how to identify concussion symptoms.

“If they haven’t been trained, then sometimes they might be a little nervous about it,” Brunken said. “But as soon as they’ve received the training, they just feel empowered I think.”

If a student has returned to school following a concussion, there are certain ways to cater to them depending on the severity of the concussion. Those include designating quiet, dark areas for short breaks. Some students won’t have to do homework or take tests until symptoms go away. Once there’s a full return to learning, students can then return to sports.

Special teams have also been put in place to monitor students, but LPS officials stress what goes on at home also matters. They need status updates from parents on how their children feel after school hours.

“It’s so important that they know that they are a very important part of that team,” Brunken said. 

Brunken said the goal is to keep educating teachers, so they’re prepared when concussion situations arise.