What Can Your Child Do When Recovering From A Concussion?

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Nothing.  This is what most doctors advise children and teens with concussions to do during the initial part of their recovery.   While a doctor's recommendation to do nothing may sound like a great way to relax, it can be downright miserable for children and teens. In this case, nothing means no activities that may be physically or mentally demanding.  

For someone with a concussion, that means no reading, no texting, no electronic media, no thinking, and very limited physical activity.

This is hard on active youth, the very youth who are most at risk for getting a concussion.

 Each concussion has a unique set of symptoms. The symptoms your child has are clues about which activities they can handle. If you are unsure,  check with your child's doctor to make sure that an activity is not too strenuous for your child to do while recovering from the concussion.

The key to many of these activities is to keep them from being mentally or physically strenuous.  In other words, the concussion recovery period is NOT the time to get too fancy or wild with these calm activities.

Simple Crafts  

Crafts can be a good way to pass the time. There are several simple crafts that can keep your child busy without getting overwhelmed. Your child may even want to give away some of their handcrafted items as gifts to friends and family. 

  • Simple friendship bracelets made from embroidery floss, small stretchy bands, or beads.
  • Simple paintings made by dropping blobs of paint on paper to create unique designs. Gently dropping paint is a way to paint without thinking.
  • Cut paper snowflakes or simple origami animals they already know how to make.
  • Use coloring books or give your child coloring pages you printed off the internet to give them a simple activity.  While younger children often like coloring pages with heir favorite television characters, mandala designs are popular with teens and young adults.

    Quiet Visits With Friends  

    School age youth don't like to be away from school and their peers. Have a friend come over for a quiet face-to-face visit.  This will alleviate loneliness and boredom.  This may also help keep your child from feeling the need to text or use social media to maintain their friendships, making it easier to avoid screen time.

    Collect Found Objects Outdoors

    Your child can head out to the yard or driveway to look for rocks, plants, flowers or other common objects and bring them indoors for a collection.  This can get your child some fresh air and movement while calmly providing an activity for them to do.

    Play in A Zen-Style Sand Garden

    Do you remember the small zen gardens that were popular office decorations in the early 2000's? Create one for your child or teen to use for relaxing play. Fill a shallow container such as a casserole dish or pie pan with sand and add some small interesting objects.  Your child or teen can spend time drawing in the sand itself or arranging the objects in the sand garden.

    Take Them On A Simple Trip Out To Eat

    Taking your child on a quiet car ride through a favorite drive-thru restaurant can get your child out of the house for a few moments while avoiding the noise and bustle often found in restaurants.  Getting a favorite treat can also provide a little mood boost after ​the difficult time of being alone and doing nothing all day.

    Take A Really Nice Bath

    You know how much you enjoy a relaxing bath? Your child can enjoy one, too. find ways to make the bath a fun experience for them. Lots of bubbles or a few containers to pour water back and forth can provide calm entertainment.  You can adjust the lighting if they are sensitive to light.

    Hopefully, your child won't be home for very many days while waiting to return to school or sports.  Once they return, the boredom tends to go away pretty quickly.  Remind your child often of how important it is to take their time with recovery. Risking too much activity only lengthens the recovery process and can even lead to long-term effects.

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