LoveYourBrain Tip: Return To Activity





While the need for immediate medical attention and rest following a concussion has been widely understood for some time (research has shown that the first 24-48 hours are critical for brain rest following a concussion), recommendations for what to do in the next phase of healing have undergone more revisions over the years. These changes often leave people with questions and confusion about when it is okay to resume activities and how much to do once they begin. A frequent question is:

“Do I have to be symptom free before resuming activities while healing following a concussion?” In general, the answer is “no.”

With the guidance of your concussion specialists, you can start to return to your daily activities with symptoms, but in a graduated manner.

  • Slowly start to resume activities of daily living (non-contact.)

  • Allow your brain to adjust to the environments (e.g., light, sound, motion.)

  • When your symptoms start to increase, change that environment, reduce the stimuli, and allow your brain to rest and recover, then you can try again.  

The idea is to ease the brain and body back to activity at a healthy pace while reducing the potentially negative social and emotional impacts of injury. We don’t want people with concussions to feel like they are isolated and have lost their sense of self while healing. Resuming activities in moderation, and with a symptom management plan, can facilitate a positive healing journey following concussion.

Sarah is a Speech Therapist who specializes in supporting students returning to school following acquired brain injuries. She is also a board member of Camp Cranium, a camp for school-aged children with brain injury, in Pennsylvania. She is contributing this tip as part of Better Hearing and Speech Month.