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Brain Health Moment: Six Steps To Concussion Recovery

By OSA News, 01/24/17, 4:00PM EST


As part of an ongoing series, Holland Bloorview’s concussion centre is supplying the Ontario Soccer Association with regular articles on concussion awareness.

In addition to awareness campaigns and community events in the upcoming indoor and outdoor seasons, together with the OSA, their goal is to align every player, coach, trainer and parent with the knowledge and resources they need to help kids get back to life, school and sport after a concussion.

Many people don’t know what to do, who to talk to or when it’s safe to go back to school or sport after getting a concussion.

Here are the six steps to concussion recovery. 

1) Stop studying, working or playing

Whether it occurred on the field or off when you suspect you have a concussion it’s important to reduce your activity to prevent further injury. Stop playing sports. Remember: when in doubt, sit out!

2) See a physician for immediate help and diagnosis

Seek immediate medical attention from a physician. This includes an emergency department physician, family or walk-in physician, pediatrician, sports medicine physician or nurse practitioner. It’s important to see one of these individuals to find out if you have a concussion and to rule out a more severe brain injury.

3) Educate yourself about concussion

So you have a concussion, now what? Holland Bloorview’s Concussion & You handbook is informed by our experts and designed to help with your concussion management and recovery. The OSA has also provided a new resource page with helpful resources on their website.

4) Rest your brain and body

It’s important to get the right amount of mental and physical and cognitive (thinking) rest when you have a concussion. Rest helps your brain recover so you can return to the activities you want or need to participate in. But don’t rest for too long. A gradual increase of light cognitive (thinking) and physical activity helps with overall recovery.

Go for a walk, ride on a stationary bike or read for a short period of time, if you feel up to it. If this activity makes you feel worse, stop and rest. You can try again another day, or maybe try a different activity that isn’t so hard. Make sure you avoid any activities where you could get a concussion again (sports, rough play etc.).

5) Slowly return to school, and then return to play

As you recover and experience fewer symptoms, you can slowly return to school and light physical activity. Work with a guidance counselor or nurse to make sure you get the support you need at school. It is important that you successfully return to school and social activities before you return to full physical activity and sport. Avoid full physical activity until you are symptom free or a physician has approved your return to play.

6) If you continue to experience symptoms past four weeks, get a referral to see a specialist for more help

Although most youth recover quickly, 30 per cent of youth experience concussion symptoms for longer than four weeks. If you continue to experience symptoms for longer than four weeks, have your physician complete our physician referral form to receive individualized care from our experts in the persistent symptoms clinic. Depending on your goals and priorities, services may include: medical follow-up with a neurologist and/or developmental pediatrician, neuropsychology, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and consultation with a social worker.

Click here for more information on concussions

Written by: Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital’s concussion centre