Naperville Students Propose New Concussion Protocols for Schools

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“I kind of felt like I was in a daze, and everything was shaky. Like the floor felt uneven when I was walking, so I couldn’t focus for long periods of time, couldn’t study for long periods of time.”

That’s how Rekha Iyer felt after she got her second concussion in her sophomore year of high school.

A studious learner with a high GPA, Rekha suffered the effects long after she hit her head.

“My grades plummeted and I was nearly failing all my classes,” said Rekha. “My parents were alarmed, and I was too because I was working just as hard. I just couldn’t do it at that point. And I just didn’t have the resources I needed.”

She said she was given an individualized plan to help in school, but it took a month and a half to put in place, eventually leading her to repeat her sophomore year.

That’s why she teamed up with Jash Desai, a senior who hopes to major in public policy in college with a focus on healthcare policy.

The two are writing new legislation to create a standardized plan for students in Illinois suffering from concussions.

“While we do agree that each individual case is important, there should be at least some amount of baseline standardizations in place so a student can get back to school as quickly as humanly possible,” said Jash.

Dr. Nicholas Mathenia, a neurologist at Edward-Elmhurst Health, said slower cognitive abilities is a common result of concussions, and recovery times can vary greatly.

“While I think that schools should have some basic guidelines in place, the real treatment needs to be tailored to an individual,” Mathenia said.

Rekha and Jash said their plan would build on the current practices of reintegrating students into school.

They propose a five-phase system making allowances for students including permission to leave class early to avoid congested hallways, extended time for homework and tests, and even repeating a grade in the fifth phase if necessary.

Rekha and Jash are currently searching for sponsors for their bill.

They say after getting their policy enacted in Illinois, they hope to take it to a federal level as well.

Naperville News 17’s Beth Bria reports.