Tips to help with concussion recovery

Concussion symptoms can be difficult to manage and have an impact on both the life of the person with the concussion and you. Some symptoms may come and go, and recovery may take longer than expected. It can be frustrating, debilitating and scary. With the right education, you can provide support to your loved one to make concussion recovery more manageable.

Here are some ways you can help your friend or family member with their concussion recovery. Consult with their doctor for any additional information you may need.

Please note: all these tips are for after your friend or family member has seen a medical professional and received a diagnosis.

Make sure they get appropriate rest and activity

The concussion guidelines say a person with a concussion should slowly become more active after 24 – 48 hours of rest. This is a change from ‘cocoon therapy’ – the practice of long periods of rest in low lighting with little to no activity.  Recent research indicates that long periods of rest may do more harm than good [1]. 

Daily activities of living should be re-introduced gradually. Overtime as symptoms decrease, the more active the patient can become [2]. The doctor should always be consulted before resuming activity that includes a significant risk of injury. If the patient’s symptoms get worse when they are active, try scaling back. Every person has a threshold for activity, and it may take a while to find.

There is no set timeline for when your friend or family member is supposed to be able to return to regular activity. The important thing is that they take their time and consult with their doctor. You can assist them with their gradual return to activity and by completing daily tasks with which they need assistance.

Ensure their gradual return to work or school

Like with physical activity after a concussion, return to work should be gradual, building up over time. Depending on the severity of the concussion, the return to work could begin a few days to a few weeks after the injury. You can assist by helping them talk with their employer about the concussion, any symptoms they are still experiencing, and how best to transition back to full responsibilities [3].

Offer to help with activities of daily living

In some cases, the person with the concussion may need assistance with their activities of daily living (ADLs). This includes cooking, cleaning, and transportation. Helping them with ADLs during recovery will reduce their stress and ensure they are not attempting to rush their recovery, as they should return to daily activities gradually according to doctor recommendations.

Keep them company

When someone’s hobbies or activities are restricted, it can become boring. Visiting with the person will improve their mood and help them if they are feeling isolated or lonely.

Attend the appointments

When a person experiences a concussion, symptoms can make it difficult to keep track of information or get to appointments. Accompanying your friend or family member to their appointments can be helpful for both of you. You can write down information and communicate with the medical team, making sure all details of the recovery plan are in place.

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