Recovery from Concussion

Key points

  • Most children with a concussion feel better within a couple of weeks. 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 any symptoms concern you or are getting worse, 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 temporarily cut back on that activity, so they do not experience symptoms.
  • It is important to remember that each concussion and each child is unique, so your child’s recovery should be customized based on his or her symptoms.

1. Rest

Your child should take it easy the first few days after the injury when symptoms are more severe.

  • Ensure they get a good night's sleep and take naps during the day as needed. Your child should not stay in bed or in a dark room all day.
  • Look for relaxing activities they can do at home or take them for a short walk outside.
  • Be sure they avoid activities that put themselves at risk for another injury to the head and brain throughout their recovery.

2. Light activity

As your child starts to feel better, they can gradually return to regular (non-sports) activities.

  • Most children can return to school within 1 to 2 days. But they may need to start back gradually.
  • Have them start light physical activity, like going for walks, even if they experience some mild symptoms.
  • If symptoms worsen, cut back on that activity until it is tolerated.
  • Be sure they get maximum nighttime sleep. Some tips to help with sleep include: avoiding screen time and loud music before bed, sleeping in a dark room, and keeping to a fixed bedtime and wake up schedule.
  • Reduce daytime naps or return to a regular daytime nap schedule (as appropriate for their age).

3. Moderate activity

When your child's symptoms are mild and nearly gone, they can return to most regular activities.

  • Help your child take breaks only if concussion symptoms worsen.
  • Return to a regular school schedule without any added supports or accommodations.

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 with your child's health care provider.
  • Ask your child's health care provider about over-the-counter or prescription medications to help with symptoms (such as, Ibuprofen or acetaminophen for headache).
  • Limit the number of soft drinks or caffeinated items to help your child rest.

Recovery Delays

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
  • family and social stressors

Post-Concussive Syndrome

Most children with a concussion feel better within a couple of weeks. But some will have symptoms for months or longer. Talk with their healthcare provider if concussion symptoms do not go away or if they get worse after returning to regular activities.

If your child has concussion symptoms that last weeks to months after the injury, their healthcare provider may talk to you about post-concussive syndrome. 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 recovers. You do not have to do it alone. Keep talking with their healthcare provider, other family members, and loved ones about how your child is feeling. If you do not think he or she is getting better, tell their healthcare provider.