Concussions 101 in Fishtown

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 Meghan Mattson shows a seventh-grader at Alexander Adaire School in Fishtown vision-impairing glasses that simulate post-concussion symptoms.(Todd Bookman/WHYY)

Meghan Mattson shows a seventh-grader at Alexander Adaire School in Fishtown vision-impairing glasses that simulate post-concussion symptoms.(Todd Bookman/WHYY)

Seventh- and eighth-graders at Alexander Adaire School in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood are getting an extra education in concussions.

Using vision-altering goggles and cognitive games, a new program aims to teach students how to recognize common post-concussion symptoms.

“We want to show the kids that it is a functional injury, not a structural injury,” said Colette Glatts from the Jefferson Comprehensive Concussion Center. “A lot of people think that we can just stick you in a CT scan and diagnose a concussion, but really we have to look at a lot of different things.”

During the half-hour presentation, students try on glasses that simulate blurred vision, then attempt reading and other cognitive tests. They also run through memory and balance exercises, using sensors in an iPad to measure steadiness.

“If they don’t know what to look for, they don’t know what’s going on, they can’t tell somebody,” she said. “They can’t tell a parent or a coach or a doctor what they’re experiencing, and then we don’t know that they had a concussion, and don’t know how to treat it.”

“They are advocates in their own care, and they need to help us help them,” added Glatts.

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and affiliated Rothman Institute are bringing the program to other Philadelphia public schools. Workshops will also be offered during the Philadelphia Science Festival kicking off later this month.

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