This lesson helps young people understand the basic concepts of concussions. Youth will discuss brain injuries and complete a KWL chart (already Know, Want to know, what I Learned) to list facts about concussions. A hands-on learning activity gives young people a chance to experience what living with a brain injury may be like. Finally, the youth will reflect on what they learned about brain injuries and how to prevent them.
Before facilitating this lesson, you may want to review the following information about concussions. These facts can be shared with young people during your discussions.
Young people who play sports or are active other ways, such as riding bikes or playing on the playground, are at risk for concussion. This is a blow to the head that affects how the brain works. It is a form of brain injury. You can’t see it but it causes changes in a person’s behavior, thinking or physical actions.
Your brain is a soft organ that is protected by spinal fluid and your skull. Normally the spinal fluid acts as a cushion between brain and skull. When your head or body is hit hard enough, however, your brain can get knocked against your skull and be concussed. Signs of a concussion can occur right away or hours or even days after the injury occurs. It’s possible to have a concussion even if you never lose consciousness. Signs and symptoms of a concussion can include:
Long-term problems are possible if a person has more than one concussion, or is re-injured before the brain fully heals. That’s why rest, seeking medical treatment, and following a doctor’s instructions are all important. Even better is to prevent concussions in the first place. The Centers for Disease Control recommends these prevention methods:
Introduce the lesson by discussing concussions, how they occur, and why young people need to be aware of this type of brain injury. Use the information about concussions in the Instructor Notes above.
Ask if anyone in the class has ever had a concussion. If so, ask if they are willing to share a little bit about what that was like.
Hand out the KWL Student Activity Sheet. Invite the youth to fill out the worksheet with a list of things that they know and things they still have questions about on this topic. On a KWL chart, full sentences are not necessary; the ideas are more are important. Suggest they use bullet points or numbers to make their lists easier to read.
In advance of the lesson set up the stations as described below.
Explain that you have some stations set up with activities that are simulations of some of the possible effects of a brain injury such as concussion. Divide the young people into groups and have them move through the stations before holding a discussion at the end:
After the youth have completed the stations, reconvene the group a debrief using the follow questions as guides:
 Adapted from Sharon Thorson, Injury Prevention Specialist, and the Denver Osteopathic Foundation, and from the “Brain Injury Empathy Experience” of Mapleton Center for Rehabilitation.
To conclude the lesson, ask the young people what they now know about how to prevent concussions. (Discuss and make sure they touch on all of the information mentioned above.)
Ask the youth to complete the last section of the KWL chart on the student activity sheet, listing things they learned about concussions.
Continuing the Conversation
Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, which also includes these tips, so that families can continue discussing brain health and brain injuries at home.