School-based speech-language pathologists and concussion : training, knowledge, and experience
Concussion affects the adolescent population in large numbers, primarily because of the popularity of team sports that are played in middle and high school. This adolescent age group is more susceptible to the adverse effects of concussion due to physiological immaturity, and recovery for this population takes longer than in adults. Speech-language pathologists, who are trained to treat cognitive-communication deficits, are present in the majority of school systems throughout the United States, and could be a useful resource to manage and treat students who incur concussion. However, speech-language pathologists historically have not treated students with concussion, and may not be receiving adequate education regarding concussion in graduate programs. This study sought to ascertain the education, training, and experience regarding concussion of speech-language pathologists in Texas secondary schools. Anonymous survey responses were collected via an Internet survey platform, yielding 49 respondents for the final data pool. The answers provided by these respondents indicate Texas speech-language pathologists are not yet receiving adequate concussion education and training. Respondents reported low confidence levels in several key areas of concussion knowledge, and doubt regarding the speech-language pathologist's role in managing concussion. Recommendations include concussion-targeted graduate school curriculum as an extension of traumatic brain injury curriculum, increased continuing education efforts by ASHA regarding concussion and the speech-language pathologist's role in treating concussion, and further advocacy by ASHA for speech-language pathologists to be part of concussion management teams based in schools.