Top 5 Things School Nurses Need to Know About Restless Legs Syndrome

May 7, 2024 Top 5 Things School Nurses Need to Know About RLS By Anjana Ganesh, RLS Foundation Intern and Kaleigh Maxwell, RLS Founda...

May 7, 2024
Top 5 Things School Nurses Need to Know About RLS

By Anjana Ganesh, RLS Foundation Intern and Kaleigh Maxwell, RLS Foundation Program Coordinator

Research suggests that RLS affects an estimated 1.5 million children and adolescents in the US, confirming that RLS and PLMD are not unique to adulthood. In addition to healthcare providers, friends, and family members, school nurses are often active supporters of children affected by RLS and play a significant part in ensuring the child receives comprehensive care and accommodations within the school setting.

In honor of National School Nurses Day, celebrated May 8th, 2024, the RLS Foundation wants to recognize the valuable role that school nurses play for those affected by Restless Legs Syndrome and share five important facts for school nurses to understand about RLS that can in turn help them more effectively support young students with RLS:

1. Be Knowledgeable about RLS Symptoms and Diagnosis

It is important for all healthcare providers to be properly educated on the typical symptoms of RLS, including an irresistible urge to move the leg, an onset or worsening of symptoms with rest, relief with movement, following a circadian pattern, and the exclusion of mimics. Understanding the different diagnostic criteria and recognizing symptoms in children can help identify potential cases and reduce delays in diagnosis.

2. Recognize the Impact on Sleep and Functioning

RLS can significantly affect a student’s sleep quality leading to daytime fatigue, irritability and difficulty concentrating in class. Recognizing chronic exhaustion can prompt discussions for appropriate interventions and support strategies.

3. Familiarize Yourself with Common RLS Triggers

Be familiar with common triggers for RLS like stress, caffeine, and medications. Encourage students with RLS to adopt healthy lifestyle habits like regular exercise, stress management and a balanced diet.

4. Educate Other School Staff

Ensure that teachers and other staff members are aware of RLS and how it can impact a student’s well-being and academic performance. Work with staff members to create accommodations to help manage RLS during school (like seating in back of the room to permit standing or stretching during classes, priority scheduling of courses and 504 designation, if indicated).

5. Collaborate with Healthcare Providers and Families

Establish open communication channels with both the healthcare providers and families of students diagnosed with RLS or actively seeking a proper diagnosis. By contributing to student care plans, it helps ensure consistent support both at school and home.

By understanding the complexities of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) and implementing appropriate support strategies, school nurses can make a meaningful difference in the lives of affected students. Through collaboration with healthcare professionals, families, and educators, we can ensure that students with RLS receive the necessary care and accommodations to thrive within the school setting. Together, let us work towards creating an inclusive and supportive environment where every student affected by Restless Legs Syndrome can reach their full potential!

For additional resources and educational material, visit the RLS Foundation website.

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