Returning to Activity After a Concussion Care Instructions

Returning to Activity After a Concussion: After Your Child's Visit

Your Care Instructions

A concussion is a kind of injury to the brain. It happens when the head receives a hard blow. The impact can jar or shake the brain against the skull. This interrupts the brain's normal activities. Any child who has had a concussion at a sports event needs to stop all activity and not return to play. Being active again before the brain recovers can raise your child's risk of having a more serious brain injury.

Your doctor will decide when your child can go back to activity or sports. In general, a child should not return to play until all symptoms are gone. The risk of a second concussion is greatest within 10 days of the first one.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?


  • Help your child get plenty of rest. Your child needs to rest his or her body and brain:
    • Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep at night. Your child also needs to take it easy during the day.
    • Help your child avoid activities that take a lot of physical or mental work. This includes housework, exercise, schoolwork, video games, text messaging, and using the computer.
    • You may need to change your child's school schedule while he or she recovers.
    • Let your child return to normal activities slowly. Your child should not try to do too much at once.
  • Keep your child from activities that could lead to another head injury. Avoid contact sports until the doctor says that your child can do them.

Returning to play

  • Your child's return to sports should be gradual. It should only begin when all symptoms of a concussion are gone.
  • Doctors and concussion specialists suggest steps to follow for returning to sports after a concussion. Use these steps as a guide. Your doctor must always make the final decision about whether your child is ready to go back to full-contact play. Your child should slowly progress through the following levels of activity:
    1. No activity. This means complete physical and mental rest.
    2. Light aerobic activity, such as walking.
    3. Sports-specific exercise, such as drills, but no head impact.
    4. Noncontact training drills. This can include light resistance training.
    5. Full-contact practice, but only if your doctor says your child is ready.
    6. Return to normal game play.
  • Watch and keep track of your child's progress. It should take at least 6 days for your child to go from light activity to normal game play.
  • Make sure that your child can stay at each new level of activity for at least 24 hours without symptoms, or as long as your doctor says, before doing more.
  • If one or more symptoms come back, have your child return to a lower level of activity for at least 24 hours. He or she should not move on until all symptoms are gone.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has a seizure.
  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).
  • Your child is confused or hard to wake up.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or worse vomiting.
  • Your child seems less alert.
  • Your child has new weakness or numbness in any part of the body.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.
  • Your child has new symptoms, such as headaches, trouble concentrating, or changes in mood.

Care instructions adapted under license by Slm. This care instruction is for use with your licensed healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.