DERRY — Pinkerton Academy will put more measures in place to ensure the safety and health of students who have suffered concussions.

The school is one of a handful to pilot a new program, "Concussion Chalk Talk," to analyze and manage a student following a concussion using a more thorough team approach.

The program is piloted through the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College.

Pinkerton staff member Heather Haas, a member of the school's concussion management team, gave an update on the program and protocol during a trustees/sending town meeting Jan. 29.

For the past several years, Pinkerton has had a cognitive testing program in place to test student athletes prior to playing sports at the school.

A baseline test is given first. Another test is administered if a concussion occurs. Physicians then analyze data and return to Pinkerton with their findings.

The pilot program takes that work a few steps further, offering a more involved protocol involving students, parents, physicians, and school staff and counselors, all working as a team to make sure the student with the injury returns to the classroom when good health is achieved.

If a student misses school due to a concussion, officials will study what that student's course should be, whether it means a reduced day at school, extra tutoring or a reduced workload.

It's all part of the overall plan to make sure students don't come back too soon or are not overwhelmed following a head injury.

"We're looking at the whole student," Haas said.

The program also delves deeply into the relationship between school, family and medical team, Haas said.

"It's a team approach model," she said.

All work together to make the best decisions on when a student should return to the classroom or the playing field.

"The brain needs time to heal," Haas said. "Students also need to be educated on what's happening in their own heads."

It may take time to integrate an injured student back into the classroom, Haas said. 

"We want to get them early to make sure there is healing time," she said.

Having the cognitive testing ready, the new pilot program and a supportive management team in place, Haas said Pinkerton is ready to handle students with head injuries and make sure they return to school at the best time.

Some parents will push back, she said.

"But we want to bring parents in as educational partners," Haas said. "This is a team effort."

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