What You Can Expect When Your Child Has A Concussion


If you just found out that your child has a concussion, you are probably wondering what the recovery time of the concussion will be like.  Children and teens have developing and growing brains that often take longer to heal from a concussion than adults.  What may take a few days for an adult to heal from can take weeks for a school-age child to recover.  During this time period, here is what you can expect:

 Expect Your Child To Be Bored 

 Your medical provider will almost certainly tell you that your child needs to spend some time doing nothing.  I this case, nothing means nothing.  Physical activity will be limited, in part to prevent receiving a second concussion during the recovery period.  Nothing also includes any mental activity, especially the sue of electronic media. When your child has the flu, they can often watch television while they recover.  Not so with a concussion!  Now computers, no handheld devices, no texting, no book reading -nothing that require any sort of thinking at all.  Your child will be bored.  Just remind your child  that it is part of the recovery process, and the use of their brain is what is at stake.  You can also look for activities that are okay to do with a concussion.

Expect Your Child To Have Setbacks  

Concussion recovery is rarely ever straightforward.  Improvement is often two steps forward, one back, rather than a steady progression of regular improvement until your child gets completely better.

 Even if you and your child follow the doctor's orders completely, you can still expect a few days where symptoms will return and lead you child to have to take additional rest days.

Expect a Slow, Gradual Return To Schoolwork

 It is unrealistic for most children with concussions to just spend a few days at home and then jump back into school full force.

 Your medical provider will help guide you into a good return to school program.  For example, the first day back at school may be a half day with no tests and no homework.  If your child can do that with no increase in symptoms, then they may move on to a full day with no tests and homework.  Each day without an increase in symptoms will lead to an increase in school activity until your child is finally fully reintegrated into school work.

Expect a Slow, Gradual Return To Sports  

Concussions are a type of brain injury.  The brain is the processing unit for the whole body.  A gradual return to full physical activity will be necessary.  This will also help prevent your child from getting a second concussion during the recovery period.  Receiving a second concussion during the recovery period will lead to a drastically increased recovery period, with increased risk of permanent damage.

Expect To Be Communicating Frequently With Your Child's School 

Following the doctor's recommended recovery protocol and dealing with the setbacks that are common with concussion recovery means you will be in frequent communication with your child's school.

 You will need to inform your child's school right away after finding out about your child's concussion diagnosis.  Many school districts and schools across the nation have developed concussion policies in response to research int he last few years showing how important it is for proper concussion recovery.  When you talk with your child's school, find out who you should contact at the school and how often they want to hear from you.  They will certainly ned to know about days when your child experiences and increase in concussion symptoms.  

You will also want to know if the school plans to dismiss assignments that are missed during the recovery period or how they plan to allow your child to make up the work after recovering.  One pitfall you will want to avoid is having your child's school require missing work to be made up once they return to school or as soon as they are able to do some school assignments.  Having to double up on work to get caught up is hard on anyone, and can lead to a return of concussion symptoms and a slower concussion recovery.

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