Recovering from Concussion
Recovering from a Concussion
Although most people recover fully after a concussion, how quickly they improve depends on many factors, including: their age, how healthy they were before the concussion, and how they take care of themselves after the injury.
Rest and time are the most important factors in recovering from a concussion. Rest is necessary because it helps the brain to heal, which takes time. “Toughing it out” and ignoring symptoms often makes them worse. Under the supervision of their healthcare provider, a person with a concussion should gradually resume normal work and school activities only when symptoms have reduced significantly. If symptoms return or new symptoms appear, it means the patient is pushing himself too hard. A person with a known or suspected concussion should not return to play until he is evaluated and given permission by an appropriate healthcare professional.
Strategies for Recovery
In the first few weeks after a concussion, experts advise that you limit physical exertion, focus on getting enough sleep, and gradually return to your work and school activities and responsibilities. Athletes need to be particularly careful to avoid another injury to the head during the period that they are recovering from a concussion. You might talk to your physician about short-term treatments for headaches, sleep difficulties, and irritability or you might try yoga, meditation, or massage to help to lessen your symptoms. Again, it is important to remember that your symptoms will usually go away on their own. Research has shown that knowing that symptoms may occur, and that they are a normal part of the recovery process, can help people to recover faster.
More Tips for Recovering from a Concussion
- Avoid activities that are physically demanding (e.g., weightlifting/working-out) or require a lot of concentration. They can make your symptoms worse and slow your recovery.
- Get plenty of sleep at night and rest during the day.
- Avoid activities, such as contact or recreational sports that could cause another blow or jolt to the head. (It is best to avoid roller coasters or other high speed rides that can make your symptoms worse or even cause a concussion.)
- Because your ability to react may be slower after a concussion, ask your healthcare professional when you can safely drive a car, ride a bike, or operate heavy equipment.
- Talk with your health care professional about when you can return to work. Ask about how you can help your employer understand what has happened to you.
- Consider talking with your employer about returning to work gradually and about changing your work activities or schedule until you recover (e.g., work half-days).
- Take only those drugs that your health care professional has approved.
- Do not drink alcoholic beverages until your health care professional says you are well enough. Alcohol and other drugs may slow your recovery and put you at risk of further injury.
- Write down the things that may be harder than usual for you to remember.
- If you’re easily distracted, try to do one thing at a time. For example, don’t try to watch TV while fixing dinner.
- Consult with family members or close friends when making important decisions.
- Do not neglect your basic needs, such as eating well and getting enough rest.
- Avoid sustained computer use, including computer/video games early in the recovery process.
- Some people report that flying in airplanes makes their symptoms worse shortly after a concussion.