Lisa Khera from In Balance Pilates and Karen Monet from the Opticalm visual stress clinic brings you another episode of Concussions Anonymous.

This episode is all about Back To School. 

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If you haven’t filled out the questionnaire on post-concussion challenges + what’s working with your healing then the link is below, there’s still time and all answers are confidential.

Back to school, back to fall. Getting used to all of the changes of routine.

New teachers, New Friends & new routines for the whole family. Add that normal stress to having a concussion, it can make things pretty difficult. 

We hope to help with tips for Back To School with a Concussion. 

Our show today addresses socializing, anxiety, pacing yourself, vision issues in the classroom, learning & the post-concussion symptoms that may be more difficult to manage. 

  • Pacing. Understanding that it’s going to be back into a busy time where you’re going to really have to focus on pacing and being mindful of conserving energy. Be aware of yourself, what causes your symptoms to flare up & knowing when those triggers will start to exacerbate symptoms so that you can stop before you get to that point  which can set things back. When you feel symptoms coming on, have a plan to rest your brain. 

 

What are your limitations? Where can push yourself and where do you need to slow down?

Having self-awareness, practicing mindfulness and pacing are essential for helping you ease into the back to school time of year. 

{Check out our previous episode that’s all about Pacing right here} 

  • Plan & Prep – Healthy food, hydration and having things prepped will help decrease decision making fatigue. Decrease spending energy on basic decisions like clothes. Time blocks and batch your activities to make it easier on your brain. For example batch an activity like picking out clothes. Schedule a time where you can go into your closet, pick out a couple outfits for the following few days and have that ready.
  • Anxiety, it’s a huge topic for back to school and especially back to school with a concussion. Try anything that you would normally use to help simmer down your anxiety. 

You need to do a certain amount of exercise, eating healthy, mindfulness and meditation.

Take time to plan your time: homework time, meditation, Pilates, all of your tasks. Schedule in Planning your week and have small goals for each day. 

 A big thing I find that helps with timing is just getting used to reverse engineering your time. For example, you know your class starts at a certain time you have to reverse engineer your tasks & time. When do I have to be up by, have to breakfast by, to leave my house by what time? How long is my commute? 

You will feel so successful just by mastering your time. 

But you’ll find that your anxiety will go down, as you are on schedule. And again, planning that out, your anxiety will go down. But by lessening the other sources of anxiety around that, it’ll help reduce stress. If we can lower the level of hyper excitement, then there’s more room & there’s a bigger buffer. So if you can give yourself a bigger buffer by reducing other anxiety-causing issues then back to school can be less stressful.

Be honest with yourself. Knowing when you need to ask for help and get help & be aware of your anxiety is getting to the point where it’s debilitating, and you need to see your doctor. 

If you’ve had a car accident, en route where you travel to get to school – there can be a lot of anxiety associated with traveling on the same route when the accident occurred – have awareness and be aware of the triggers that caused you to feel anxiety. If you’re aware that a trigger on your route to school is a certain location, well, then you know that you can do something about it, you can change the route, you can look at ways or know ahead. It’s important to address and identify the triggers for your anxiety to help manage the situation.

If you are living in flight or fight mode…

If you’re the type of person that gets fairly easily startled, if you’re having a lot of visual symptoms, and you get easily startled by things coming into the periphery, learning what things you can modify will help you. An example would be using a hoodie that you can put up over your head or having a baseball to help block out the visual periphery to help relax your brain. 

Make a plan to communicate with your teachers about the reasons why you might have to modify, try something like: “I’m not doing this because I don’t want to talk to you, I’m doing this because I’m trying to filter out all the rest of the chaos so that I can focus on learning.”

Or if you have got to the point where you have flared things up, now you’re just about at that point where you’re just staring off into space, again, being able to have that dialogue with your professors and teachers and close friends that you know. 

If you are a parent of a student who has had a concussion, please talk to your children’s teachers about that because any pre-existing learning or attention difficulties, or migraines that were existing before concussion, these types of conditions can be made worse by a concussion. 

So you may not have noticed it in the summertime when they’re not in class. But then all of a sudden they’re back in the classroom, and they’re complaining about not able to focus difficulty with the screens, the whiteboard, the lights, having more difficulty reading, these are all signs that the concussion has made some of these pre-existing conditions, which may have been managed fine before, maybe much worse now. If your child has had any type of concussion in the summer, it’s imperative that you talk to the teachers.

For teachers, from a behavioral standpoint, if the teacher is suddenly wondering, why is this child being difficult, or staring off in space? Why are they not eating all their lunch? Why are they so distracted that they can’t even write or focus on reading? If they have had emotional outbursts where they’re suddenly crying or if they’re suddenly getting angry and not being able to get along with others – these can all be signs of post-concussion syndrome.

We’re also seeing that there’s a lot of the issues of going back to school with socializing. If you’re having difficulties with speech, communicating, cognition and memory, that can be really taxing and embarrassing to be around new people. 

Commonly, people that have problems communicating after a concussion end up feeling self-conscious or feel that people will judge them because they’re mixing up their words. 

If you’re still struggling with reading and following instructions the forms at the beginning of the school year can add stress to an already busy time. Whatever you’re going through, you can modify and pace yourself and make those things easier.

You can contact the groups within the universities or the colleges that help with assistive technology and tools and tell them that you’re dealing with post-concussion, whether it’s yourself or your children, and they can assign somebody to help with them. You may need to go with a doctor’s letter stating it had a concussion. 

At Opticalm, there is some computer software that’s available that helps with tinting the screen so that can help with screen intolerance as it is a big problem in the workplace. The other tool we have will actually Apple itself Mac books, Apple iPods, and iPads. Now they have integrated into their new operating system, the iOS 10 has a colored screen filter option, now the day and night filter option is an option. There is a function within Apple display accommodations, and you can go in there and it is a color filter. 

Know that you’re not alone. There are other people that are going through the same thing, school can be so stressful, and then going through post-concussion syndrome, it can be challenging. Definitely reach out – we are here for you. 

You are invited to join the online course Healthy Brain and Optimal Posture, we have a really supportive community inside. Be able to reach out and talk to someone that gets it, that’s not going to judge you or your post-concussion challenges. Our members are people that can give you support, lift you up with positive energy. 

Let us know if you’ve found any tricks and tools to get through the back to school time. Whether you’re a teacher & have specific questions about specific students and how you can help make their life at school a little bit easier with post-concussion, if you’re a parent and need more tricks and tools on how to empathize with your child, or how to advocate for your child to the teachers then reach out to us.

If you’re a parent who is dealing with all the post-concussion issues, and you’re just trying to cook dinner at night and go through all the forms and function. We are we’ve got your back. So definitely reach out to us. We don’t want to see you suffer alone, and we’re here to help.

Meet your instructor:

Lisa Khera has owned and operated In Balance Pilates studio since 2006 and has been practicing Pilates since 2000. Lisa is a Certified Pilates, PiYO & Barre Instructor in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, Barrels and Injuries and Special Populations with a special understanding of concussions, low back pain and Pilates rehab.

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