Knowing how to return to daily life and sports after a concussion is vital to a healthy recovery. If rushed, a mild concussion can turn into an even more serious brain injury.
RETURNING TO SCHOOL
Most kids and teens will only need help through informal, academic adjustments as they recover from a concussion. However for kids and teens with ongoing symptoms, a variety of formal support services may be available to help them during their recovery. These support services may vary widely among states and school districts. The type of support will differ based on the needs of each student. Some of these support services may include:
- Response to Intervention Protocol (RTI)
- 504 Plan
- Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
- Your child or teen may feel frustrated, sad, and even angry because she or he cannot return to school right away, keep up with schoolwork, or hang out as much with their friends. Talk often with your child or teen about this and offer your support and encouragement.
RETURNING TO SPORT
Six Step Return to Play Progression
It is important for an athlete’s parent(s) and coach(es) 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 he or she gets new symptoms, this is a sign that the athlete is pushing too hard. The athlete should stop these activities and the athlete’s 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.