If your child has suffered a concussion, as a parent, you will play a vital role in his or her recovery. Common symptoms include fatigue, a “foggy” feeling, trouble concentrating and dizziness. While rest will help the healing process, there are several things you’ll need to do so your child can resume normal activities as soon as possible.
Here are just a few of the more important ones.
The Day of the Injury
Make sure your child immediately stops all activity, including social interactions, play and any sort of schoolwork. Don’t allow him or her to text, get on a computer, play video games or even watch television. Get to a doctor as soon as you can, but you may need to go to the nearest emergency room if any vomiting, loss of consciousness, difficulty walking or any other type of severe symptoms arise.
The Next 24-48 Hours
Continue to closely observe your child. While the majority of concussion-related symptoms are mild, there are certain instances in which a life-threatening condition may develop. These include bleeding on the brain and others. If the child exhibits any of the following, take him or her to the hospital as soon as you can:
- Slurred speech.
- Pronounced irritability or confusion.
- An inability to recognize people or places.
- Weakness or numbness in the legs or arms.
The Recovery Period
This can typically last anywhere from two days to three weeks or longer, depending on the severity of the concussion. During this time, your child’s brain will need time to heal. However, there’s a risk that boredom, anxiety or isolation could occur. Continued rest will be needed, but your child can take part in limited social or brain activity. Try to avoid any bright, loud or busy locations and make sure the child stays hydrated and eats normally.
When your child starts feeling better, make a return visit to the doctor to have a concussion test performed. This will help determine how long it will take for your son or daughter to return to school and sports activities.
Returning to School and Sports
When your child is no longer displaying any symptoms at home, your doctor can help design a return-to-school program that will ease him or her back into a class schedule. There is a chance that restrictions will be put in place, such as half-days only, no projects or tests, periodic breaks and others.
In most instances, a child can gradually resume sports activities within 5 to 10 days after going back to school. However, many experts recommend specific steps be taken before returning to full physical activity. Work closely with your schools’ athletic trainer to make sure these steps are followed to the letter:
- Step 1 – Light cardio work, such as jogging or using a stationary bicycle.
- Step 2 – Moderate cardio as well as non-contact drills.
- Step 3 – Full non-contact practice.
- Step 4 – Contact drills in practice.
- Step 5 – Full practice.
- Step 6 – Full participation in games.
Helping your child deal with a concussion will obviously take a great deal of work. However, following your doctor’s recommendations will provide the best chance of a full, healthy recovery.