Elmer is wondering… How can he help a friend who has a concussion?

If someone in your class has a concussion, you might find that they seem a little more fidgety, grumpy or sleepy. Your classmate may get tired easily because their brain is working hard to heal. This means someone with a brain injury can have issues with thinking and communicating. You will need to have patience, give them more time to take in information and provide quiet spaces. Often when someone has a brain injury, they can get frustrated easily and can struggle concentrating and learning in class. After a brain injury, people may get overwhelmed and overloaded. This means that they cannot take on any more instructions or information. If a classmate has their head down, back to you and doesn’t look at you when you talk to them it is likely they need a break. Some things that you can do is give them space and let an adult or teacher know so they can keep an eye on them.  

If someone in your class has a concussion you may notice they are: 

-More fidgety  

-Less tolerant 

-Tired and sleepy 


-Struggling to concentrate 


What can you do to help? 

-Give them more time to take in information  

-Provide quiet spaces. 

-Let the teacher know 

-Be patient   

Remember their brain is working hard to heal so everyday activities might take longer than usual. 

Elmer is wondering… What is a concussion?

A concussion is also known as a mild traumatic brain injury. This is when you have a hit or jolt to the head which gives your brain a shake. There are a range of symptoms you may experience from a concussion which can impact your thinking skills, physical ability and emotions. A person with a concussion may take a little longer to do something that would normally be easy for them. They may find school harder and get frustrated, but eventually their brain will get better, and it will get easier to do those things again. 

Elmer is wondering… how can he recognise a concussion?

There are many signs and symptoms of a concussion. 

Most common symptoms of a concussion:  


-Feeling tired or low on energy 

-Difficulty concentrating and remembering 

-Light-headedness or dizziness 

-Change in balance 


-Mood changes, irritability and restlessness 

-Changes in hearing and vision  

Each person will show different combinations of symptoms, some may only show one or two, while others will experience more symptoms.  

Elmer is wondering… who can help you get better when you have a brain injury?

There are many people involved in a person’s recovery from a brain injury. As well as their family and friends there are a group of professionals that are there to help. A professional team may be made up of people such as an Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist, Clinical Psychologist, Neuropsychologist, Speech Language Therapist, Social Worker, Dietitian and Medical Specialist. Each person has a different role in aiding and supporting someone through their recovery. All of these people can be found at the Laura Fergusson Brain Injury Trust! 

Elmer is wondering… what can he add to his day to keep his brain healthy?

There are many things that we can add into our lives to help our brains stay healthy! Here are a couple of things we can do to help:  

-Keep your body moving. A walk with your family outside would be a good way to do this 

-Eat balanced meals and healthy food 

-Drink water  

-Sleep well – Children should be getting about 9-12 hours a night. 

Elmer is wondering… how can a brain injury effect someone and their life?

Brain injury is often an invisible injury so you may not know someone has one.  

Having a brain injury may mean someone finds it difficult to part in their usual activities such as being at school, playing sports or spending time with friends. It can be really hard and frustrating for them. We can all help by being patient and compassionate, just like Elmer.  

Elmer is wondering… what is neuroplasticity?

Neuroplasticity is a long word that means our brains are flexible and can grow, rewire and physically adapt how we need them to. Did you know that we can continue to grow our brains throughout our lives and replace some lost neurons? Neurons are little structures in our brains that send signals around our brain to tell our bodies what to do. After a Brain Injury neuroplasticity allows us to change the way that these neurons interact with each other as we learn and experience new things.  

Elmer is wondering… how do helmets actually work?

A small way that we have all learnt how to protect our brains is wearing a helmet when we ride our bikes – but what does your helmet actually do? All helmets have a hard plastic shell on the outside and foam on the inside. When you hit your head, the forces from the impact spread out over the helmet, reducing the force that is applied to your skull and therefore your brain. This is also why it is important to make sure that your helmet fits properly to reduce the risk of damage to your brain.  

Elmer is wondering… how can he physically see if someone has a brain injury?

You can’t! The crazy thing about brain injuries is that we can’t always see that there is anything wrong physically so instead we should be aware of other signs and symptoms someone may experience. Some of these may be things like  


-difficulty concentrating and remembering  

-light-headedness or dizziness 

-Change in balance 

-Mood changes  

-Irritability and restlessness 

Elmer is wondering… how long would it take him to recover from a concussion?

It depends on a lot of things for your recovery time, but most concussions can improve within three weeks. Although some people can experience ongoing symptoms for a longer period. It is best to seek help from your doctor if you have had a concussion. It may be helpful for a referral for further assistance from services like the Laura Fergusson Brain Injury Trust.  

Elmer is wondering… what is the brain?

The brain is the powerhouse of the body! It is in charge of everything we do from breathing, to learning new things at school, to playing on the football field at lunch. Our brains work faster than any computer in the world! They even work when we’re sleeping, telling our heart to keep beating and our lungs to keep breathing. It’s really important to remember that we only get one brain, so we have to protect it as much as possible.  

Elmer is wondering… how does sugar affect his brain?

Sugar is hard to resist and is everywhere, including in our juice and yoghurts. When we eat sugar we get a reward signal, this makes our brain say “Yes! Let’s eat that again!” It is easy to love sugar, but it can cause cravings and an increased sugar tolerance. The problem with this is that we do not get the balance of nutrients we need from just eating sugar. Some scientists have even found that too much sugar can cause problems in behaviour like impulsiveness and issues with our sleep. Natural sugars like those found in fruit are a much better way to satisfy your sweet tooth. 

Elmer is wondering… how long should he sleep for each night?

Children should be sleeping for 9 to 12 hours a night. That’s a lot! But it’s so important because of how much we are learning and growing each day. Our brain needs time to process everything we have learnt in the day and to form stronger memories, so we don’t have to relearn it all over again. The length of sleep required does change between each person, and the quality is more important, but as a general rule aiming for 9 to 12 hours is best.  

Elmer is wondering… what happens to your brain when you get a concussion?

A concussion is also known as a mild traumatic brain injury. This is when you have a hit or jolt to the head which gives your brain a shake. 

Elmer is wondering… why do you get certain symptoms from a concussion?

The symptoms someone gets from a concussion can be differentEffects on the brain can be widespread during a concussion and therefore symptoms can be different person to person. Luckily, there are places like Laura Fergusson Brain Injury Trust that can help work out what we need to do to help each person based on their symptoms.  

Elmer is wondering… where can he get help if he gets a brain injury?

Laura Fergusson Brain Injury Trust, of course! We specialise in assessing, rehabilitating and supporting those impacted by brain injury in Canterbury and the surrounding regions. Find out more about us at: https://www.lfbit.co.nz/ 

Elmer is wondering… how common are brain injuries in New Zealand?

Almost 100 people a day suffer a traumatic brain injury in New Zealand. Over half of ACC’s serious injury claims relate to traumatic brain injuries and the New Zealand Treasury has identified it as second only to stroke for their impacts on employment and income. But it’s lucky that we have great services to help us recover like the Laura Fergusson Brain Injury Trust. 

Elmer is wondering… can someone who has suffered a brain injury live a full life after?

Yes, they can! With the help of professionals at places like Laura Fergusson Brain Injury Trust, people can live full lives once again. Life may look a little different afterwards but that doesn’t mean that it’s not full. To read about one of our amazing clients here: https://www.lfbit.co.nz/about-us/news-and-events/nicks-story  

Elmer is wondering… can someone drive after a serious brain injury?

Some people can, but sometimes their cars might need some modifications. The amazing people at Laura Fergusson can complete a driving assessment, they can make adjustments to the car and can support people to learn new strategies to help them drive again. 

Elmer is wondering… what is the difference between a brain injury and a concussion?

A concussion is also known as a mild traumatic brain injury. Some people may have a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury. Others may have an acquired brain injury such as a stroke. A concussion (or mild traumatic brain injury) usually recovers and heal quicker than a more severe brain injury 

Elmer is wondering… how does his brain send messages to the rest of his body?

The brain uses special messengers called neurons to send messages. These neurons are like tiny super-fast runners that carry messages back and forth through pathways in the brain, acting like roads for them to travel. Neurons use a special type of electricity to send messages, making it like turning on tiny light bulbs in the brain. Once the message reaches the end of the pathway, helping us move, think, talk and feel different emotions. It’s like having an amazing communication system inside our head! So, our brain is like a smart boss talking to the rest of our body, making sure everything works together to help us have fun and be awesome! 

Elmer is wondering… should he sleep if he gets a concussion?

Yes, if you get a concussion, it’s important to rest and sleep! When you have a concussion, your brain needs time to heal, just like how your body needs rest when you’re feeling unwell. Sleeping helps your brain recover faster because it can focus all its energy on fixing any small glitches caused by the injury. It’s like giving your brain a super cozy blanket to help it feel better. 

Elmer is wondering… What should he do if he sees someone get hurt and they might have a brain injury?

If you see someone get hurt and you think they might have a brain injury: Tell a grown-up right away; stay with them and offer comfort; don’t move them; encourage them to rest; don’t give them food or drink until a grown-up arrives. Your quick action and support can make a big difference in helping your friend get the care they need! 

Elmer is wondering… How can you teach others about brain injury safety and prevention?

One really good way we can teach people about brain injury safety and prevention is to get them to come along with you on this trail and answer the questions! The more people we have thinking and talking about these questions, the safer and healthier we can all be.  

Elmer is wondering… Why is it important to tell an adult if he’s hit his head?

It’s important to tell an adult if you’ve hit your head because they can take care of you and make sure your brain is okay. Even small bumps need attention, like having a superhero looking out for you. Resting your brain helps it heal, just like when you rest for an illness. Grown-ups are there to help keep your brain happy and healthy! 

Elmer is wondering… Can wearing a seatbelt in the car protect his brain?

Absolutely! Wearing a seatbelt in the car is super important because it helps protect not only your brain but your whole body too! Imagine a seatbelt as a big, strong hug that keeps you safe during car rides. If there’s a sudden stop or an accident, the seatbelt holds you in place, preventing you from flying forward and hitting the hard parts inside the car. Our brain is like the boss of our body, and it’s super important to keep it safe. When you wear your seatbelt, you’re making sure your brain stays safe inside your head, and that’s really cool! So, always remember to buckle up every time you get in the car, just like a responsible superhero, because wearing a seatbelt is one of the best ways to protect your brain and keep you safe on the road! 

Elmer is wondering… Why is it essential to take breaks and rest his brain during activities like studying or playing video games?

Taking breaks and resting your brain is important because it helps you think better, avoid getting tired, stay happy, and be more creative. Just like recharging a battery, breaks give your brain the energy it needs for fun and exciting adventures! So, remember to take brainy breaks during study and playtime. Your brain will thank you! This is especially important if you are recovering from a concussion. 

Elmer is wondering… Can you name some famous athletes or cartoon characters who wear helmets to protect their brains? Why would they wear them?

Famous Athletes – BMX Riders: New Zealand has some amazing BMX riders who wear helmets while performing incredible tricks to keep their brains safe. Riders like Sarah Walker and Paul Langlands are well-known in the BMX world.  

Cartoon characters – PJ Masks: Catboy wears a cool helmet with ears when he transforms into a superhero to protect his head while saving the day. 

Elmer is wondering… does he have to have an accident to get a brain injury?

No, you don’t have to have an accident to get a brain injury. There are different ways a brain injury can happen, and accidents are just one of them. Some examples are strokes and lack of oxygen. Strokes are a type of brain injury that can happen to both adults and, very rarely, to children. They occur when something blocks the blood flow to the brain, like a traffic jam in the blood vessels. This can happen because of a blood clot or a burst blood vessel. It’s essential to stay safe, wear helmets, and follow safety rules to protect your brain during activities. Also, knowing how to spot signs of strokes and getting help quickly is important to take care of ourselves and others.  

Elmer is wondering… What are the common causes of a concussion?

Concussions can be caused in a wide range of contexts such as: 


-Car accidents 

-Cycle accidents 

-Falls from a height 

In New Zealand sports related injuries are responsible for 20% of traumatic brain injuries. However, although sports such as rugby, soccer, horse riding and cycling are major contributors to concussion in NZ the majority are not sports related.  

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