Return to Sport from Injury
Recovery from Concussion
Most children with a concussion feel better within a couple of weeks. However for some, symptoms will last for a month or longer. Concussion symptoms may appear during the normal healing process or as your child gets back to their regular activities. If there are any symptoms that concern you or are getting worse, be sure to seek medical care as soon as possible.
What Steps Should My Child Take to Feel Better?
Making short-term changes to your child’s daily activities can help him or her get back to a regular routine more quickly. As your child begins to feel better, you can slowly remove these changes. Use your child’s symptoms to guide return to normal activities. If your child’s symptoms do not worsen during an activity then this activity is OK for them. If symptoms worsen, your child should cut back on how much he or she can do that activity without experiencing symptoms. It is important to remember that each concussion and each child is unique, so your child’s recovery should be customised based on their symptoms.
Factors that might delay recovery include your child having:
A history of a previous concussion or other brain injury
Neurological or Mental Health Disorders
Learning Difficulties, and/or
Family and Social Stressors
Your child should take it easy the first few days after the injury when symptoms are more severe.
Early on, limit physical and thinking/remembering activities to avoid symptoms getting worse.
Avoid activities that put your child at risk for another injury to the head and brain.
Get a good night’s sleep and take naps during the day as needed.
As your child starts to feel better, gradually return to regular (non-strenuous) activities.
Find relaxing activities at home. Avoid activities that put your child at risk for another injury to the head and brain
Return to school gradually. If symptoms do not worsen during an activity, then this activity is OK for your child.
If symptoms worsen, cut back on that activity until it is tolerated.
Get maximum nighttime sleep. (Avoid screen time and loud music before bed, sleep in a dark room,
and keep to a fixed bedtime and wake up schedule.)
Reduce daytime naps or return to a regular daytime nap schedule (as appropriate for their age).
When symptoms are mild and nearly gone, your child can return to most regular activities.
Help your child take breaks only if concussion symptoms worsen.
Return to a regular school schedule.
Back to Regular Activity
Recovery from a concussion is when your child is able to do all of their regular activities without experiencing any symptoms.
Also, be sure to:
Schedule a follow up appointment for your child’s doctor or nurse.
Ask your child’s doctor or nurse about safe over-the-counter or prescription medications to help with symptoms
(e.g., Ibuprofen or acetaminophen for headache)
Limit the number of soft drinks or caffeinated items to help your child rest.
While most children and teens with a concussion feel better within a couple of weeks, some will have symptoms for months or longer.
Talk with your children’s or teens’ health care if their concussion symptoms do not go away or if they get worse after they return to their regular activities.
If your child or teen has concussion symptoms that last weeks to months after the injury, their medical provider may talk to you about post-concussive syndrome. While rare after only one concussion, post-concussive syndrome is believed to occur most commonly in patients with a history of multiple concussions.
There are many people who can help you and your family as your child or teen recovers. You do not have to do it alone.
Keep talking with your medical provider, family members, and loved ones about how your child or teen is feeling.
If you do not think he or she is getting better, tell your medical provider.
Return to Play Progression
It is important for an athlete's parent(s) and coaches to watch for concussion symptoms after each day's return
to play progression activity. An athlete should only move to the next step if they do not have any new symptoms at the current step.
If an athlete's symptoms come back or if they get new symptoms, this is a sign that they are pushing too hard.
The athlete should stop the activities and the athletes medical provider should be contacted.
After more rest and no concussion symptoms, the athlete can start at the previous step.
Step 1: Back to regular activities (such as school)
Athlete is back to their regular activities (such as school) and has the green-light from their healthcare provider
to begin the return to play process. An athlete’s return to regular activities involves a stepwise process.
It starts with a few days of rest (2-3 days) and is followed by light activity (such as short walks) and moderate activity
(such as riding a stationary bike) that do not worsen symptoms.
Step 2: Light aerobic activity
Begin with light aerobic exercise only to increase an athlete’s heart rate. This means about 5 to 10 minutes on an
exercise bike, walking, or light jogging. No weight lifting at this point.
Step 3: Moderate activity
Continue with activities to increase an athlete’s heart rate with body or head movement. This includes moderate jogging,
brief running, moderate-intensity stationary biking, moderate-intensity weightlifting
(less time and/or less weight from their typical routine).
Step 4: Heavy, non-contact activity
Add heavy non-contact physical activity, such as sprinting/running, high-intensity stationary biking, regular weightlifting routine,
non-contact sport-specific drills (in 3 planes of movement).
Step 5: Practice & full contact
Young athlete may return to practice and full contact (if appropriate for the sport) in controlled practice.
Step 6: Competition
Young athlete may return to competition.