Phases of Concussion Recovery
With quick treatment, most children recover fully from mild concussions with no long-term effects. However, some children may not follow the standard phases of recovery. To ensure the brain heals properly, our team of specialists provide step-by-step guidance on when it is safe for your child to return to school, sports and other activities. Our treatment plans are tailored to the child’s needs, but generally they follow three phases of recovery.
Phase 1 of concussion recovery
One to five days after a concussion, it is important for your child to:
Rest. Concussions are serious injuries that require time to heal. Limiting physical and mental activities is key to the recovery process. The child should limit any type of stimulating mental activity, including:
- Watching TV
- Playing video games
- Physical activity other than an easy walk
Receive medication. Physical symptoms, such as a headache and neck pain, are common. You can give your child over-the-counter medications, as directed by your doctor or emergency room physician. Your child will need to stay calm and rest their brain, so pain management is important.
Stay home from school and sports. Your provider will let you know when it’s safe for your child to return to school and sports. They will be given modifications they will need to use when they resume these activities.
Phase 2 of concussion recovery
During days two to ten after their injury, your child may:
Return to daily activities. Your child can begin to resume activities of daily living and tolerate limited amounts of screen time, reading and very light physical activity.
Resume school. We have a dedicated nurse coordinator who will work directly with your child’s school to ensure they are aware of any special modifications that may need to be made to assist in your child’s recovery. Learn about our returning to school protocol.
Receive less medication. As pain begins to improve, your child should require less medication. It is important to use over-the-counter medications only as needed in this phase.
Phase 3 of concussion recovery
During days seven to 21 after a concussion, your child may:
Fully engage in school. Most special accommodations are no longer required for your child to take part in classroom activities.
No longer need medication. At this point, pain has likely decreased, so your child can go off pain medication.
Play sports. The child can return to sports, physical education class, and other physical activity once a pediatric specialist sees no concussion symptoms or signs and verifies it is safe to do so. The child must be participating 100% in the classroom before returning to sports. Learn more about our returning to physical activity protocol.