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Think of the possibilities
January 14, 2014, 05:00 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal

Well ain’t that a kick in the head. Forget about the dog eating one’s homework. The newest excuse for avoiding schoolwork is a concussion.

The Boston-based Sports Concussion Clinic — with a name like that there’s no confusion over what those folks study — announced recently that new research shows children sporting a concussion recover significantly faster if they don’t strain their mental faculties too much after being injured. In other words, the best advice for them is not to think too hard.

Actually, that’s probably good advice for a good number of people I know. And the other ones? I might argue they haven’t thought hard in a very long time, skull bop notwithstanding.

But back to those whose excuse for a mental break is actually medically warranted. The conclusion seems pretty common sensical. When you hurt your knee, you usually rest it. Makes no sense to put weight on an already weakened area. When you throw out the back, the same — maybe along with some super fun painkillers and eventual physical therapy. And when it’s the brain hurting, it follows suit that the best thing to do is give the gray matter a couple days vacation. Unless, of course, that brain ache is due to too many adult beverages and too little sleep on a school night. Then you just have to suck it up, chug some aspirin and water, dial down the volume on the desk phone ringer and hope the boss doesn’t expect too much.

Maybe now with this study, though, there is an alternative even for those of us long out of high school. Calling in concussed.

Gee, I’d really like to annotate that data report in triplicate and practice having a smile in my voice but darnnit I went and got myself concussed last night. That twerking sure is a killer on the noggin.

Why should adolescent athletes get all the perks? The real question is if feigning concussion can also supplant the old “check is in the mail” explanation, too.

The ironic thing about the concussion study is that at first blush hitting one’s head (or at least claiming to have done so) sounds like a creative way for teens to avoid hitting the books. But the devil is in the details, kiddos. The mental rest prescribed by experts extends far beyond reading, writing and arithmetic.

Imagine the scenario:

Student: I’d really have liked to finish up those algebra equations and polish up that report on the beginnings of World War I but I rattled my brain a bit yesterday.

Teacher: That’s OK then. Just go home and rest up. But make sure not to play any video games or text your friends either. Hand over the cellphone.

Student: Wait — what? I have to just lay in bed without Snapchat or getting everybody on Facebook to like my slightly exaggerated version of injuring myself in a completely awesome way? I can’t just stay home and play “Call of Duty” for hours? My head doesn’t hurt that much. Give me that text book!

If my antiquated long-out-of-school memory serves, getting a teen to do homework even under the best of circumstances can be like hitting one’s head against the wall anyway. Maybe for the parents of the injury-prone and athletic set, this study is a way to get a little rest, too.

Michelle Durand’s column “Off the Beat” runs every Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached by email: or by phone (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. What do you think of this column? Send a letter to the editor:



Tags: concussion, study, those, brain, mental, school,

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