Concussion Management

Recovery after a Concussion

The majority of sports-related concussions (80-90%) resolve within 7-10 days (Aubry et al., 2002). This recovery period is usually longer for children, adolescent, and athletes with a previous history of injury (Field et al., 2003; McClincy et al., 2006). No specific medical therapies have proven to be effective, or are currently available for sports-related concussions. So what is the treatment for a concussion? Rest.

Cognitive Rest

When you sustain an injury playing sports, you rest until your injury heals. The same needs to happen when you sustain a concussion, except with a concussion, you need to rest your brain. This can be difficult, as a concussion is not an injury you can see like a broken arm. Some even say that concussions are”invisible injuries.” This can make it hard to believe that you need rest, but just like any other injury your brain needs time to heal. Most people are not used to resting their brain; it does not medications, crutches, or an icepack. Resting your brain is called cognitive rest. Cognitive rest means no sports, no video games, no TV, no school. During cognitive rest an athlete should reduce academic, physical, and social activities until symptoms lessen or resolve. Cognitive rest is very important during the first few days of recovery, because activities that require concentration and attention may worsen symptoms and prolong recovery. As part of engaging in “cognitive rest” it is important to follow the Return to Learn Guidelines. For more information about getting back into the classroom, check out our page called “Return to Learn Guidelines.”

Physical Rest

After sustaining a concussion, you should also engage in physical rest. This means limiting physical activity and following the Return to Play Guidelines for returning to the game. For more information on the getting back on the ice/field, check out our page called “Return-to-Play Guidelines.”

Be Aware

Anyone who sustains a head injury should see a doctor. Although most concussions usually resolve within 7-10 days, you need to pay attention to your symptoms. If you suddenly start to feel worse – for example, a worsening headache, repeated vomiting, having trouble walking, having a seizure, progressive confusion, or severe drowsiness, you should seek medical attention. Anyone experiencing these symptoms may need neuroimaging to rule out other brain injuries.

Click on the link below to watch a video from Parachute Canada

This video clip was taken from ThinkFirst Canada’s “Smart Hockey Video.” Here, you can watch Boston Bruins Forward, Patrice Bergeron talk about his experience with concussion recovery and return to play.

For more information about concussion management, visit

Field, M., Collins, M. W., Lovell, M. R., & Maroon, J. (2003). Does age play a role in recovery from sports-related concussion? A comparison of high school and collegiate athletes. J Pediatr, 142(5), 546-553. doi: 10.1067/mpd.2003.190
McClincy, M. P., Lovell, M. R., Pardini, J., Collins, M. W., & Spore, M. K. (2006). Recovery from sports concussion in high school and collegiate athletes. Brain Inj, 20(1), 33-39. doi: 10.1080/02699050500309817

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