With football season not far away, we thought it would be a good time to discuss the topic of returning to your sport or activity after a concussion.

See What You Need to Know About Concussions

Soccer player on bench
Immediately remove yourself from your game or activity if you suspect you have a concussion.
Learn more:
Concussion Diagnosis

How does a concussion occur?

A concussion is the result of biochemical changes in your brain triggered by either a blow to your head or severe whiplash.

Symptoms of a concussion may include:

  • Difficulty recalling information or concentrating on the task at hand
  • Headaches, blurry vision, or nausea
  • Sadness, irritability, or anxiousness
  • Changes in sleep patterns

See Concussion Symptoms

When should you return from a concussion?

Every concussion is different, so there is no universal time table for when you can return to your sport or activity. Despite the uniqueness of each situation, there are several guidelines you should follow when considering your return:

  • Never return to play if you have lingering concussion symptoms. If you’re not fully healed, a second concussion can result in serious medical complications like cerebral swelling or brain herniation.
  • Let your doctor know if you have a history of concussions. She or he may recommend finding a new sport or activity in order to protect your brain.

While your symptoms are present, your doctor may recommend one of the following treatments:

  • Rest your body. Avoid physical labor and exercise of any kind.
  • Give your brain a break. Brain rest can speed your recovery time; lay low and abstain from activities like reading books or attending social events.
  • Get some sleep. Sleep a solid 8 hours and take a nap if you experience fatigue during the day.

Once your symptoms have subsided, you can slowly progress from light-aerobic activity towards resuming your daily activities under the supervision of your doctor.

See Concussion Treatment and Recovery

Additional considerations

As a general rule, children and teenagers need more time to recover from a concussion because their brains are still developing.

You may also need additional recovery time if you have a history of any of the following:

  • Migraines
  • Chronic pain
  • Seizures
  • Sleep disorders
  • Depression

See Factors Affecting Concussion Recovery

Your symptoms may not surface right away, so even if you’re not initially diagnosed with a concussion take a break for 24 to 48 hours. You can typically return to your sport after 1 to 2 symptom-free days if cleared by a doctor.

Learn more:

Getting Brain Rest After a Concussion

Helping Kids Return to Physical Activity After Concussion