Summer camps must also be vigilant in safeguarding kids

January 4, 2010

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I APPLAUD Neal McGrath for his excellent summation of the true effects of concussion and his practical suggestions to school personnel (“Concussion care for student-athletes,’’ Op-ed, Dec. 30). His proposals should extend to summer camp and program staff.

My doctoral research identified significant cognitive effects following even mild head injuries and concussions. This resulted in what some - for example, my children - might consider to be a certain degree of over-attention to the use of helmets and other precautions during regular but risky childhood activities. Even so, last summer my 15-year-old son, while away at summer camp, sustained a concussion after bonking heads with another camper while being pulled on a float behind a speed boat. Once we were finally informed of the accident (after a brief clinic visit and X-rays for facial fracture), it took extraordinary measures from my husband (a physician) and me to persuade the camp medical staff and camp director to follow up with a head scan without delay, and to seriously limit any physical activities that could result in additional injury in the following days. Our requests were granted, but not without our feeling that we had acted somewhat officiously.

Summer is a time when children and adolescents have more time and opportunities to engage in activities that can be dangerous. Parents and the professionals supervising summer programs need the same education as school staff regarding the real effects of concussion and proper post-injury management.

Suzanne Hope Diamond
The writer is a speech language pathologist specializing in head injury and language-based learning disabilities.

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