Step-by-step recovery for athletes with concussion
During your first appointment, your student-athlete will meet the concussion care team and receive a thorough evaluation to confirm the diagnosis of a concussion. This evaluation includes balance testing, vision testing, and computerized neurocognitive testing.
Then, we'll create a step-by-step return-to-play plan that gradually and safely builds your student-athlete's strength and skills toward a full recovery.
Each step in our five- to six-step process takes at least 24-48 hours to allow time for the athlete to heal. The process involves progressive activity that centers on balance, cardiovascular exercise, aerobic conditioning, and muscular strength coordination, all tailored to your student-athlete's sport.
Pediatric-specific physical therapy exercises, such as vestibular and neck therapy, begin in the early phases of recovery. These exercises help with symptoms like dizziness, imbalance, headaches, and neck pain. Our athletic trainers and sports physical therapists help your student-athlete identify appropriate exercise exertion levels during recovery.
In addition to a return-to-sport plan, the concussion care team also structures a return-to-learn program, providing appropriate academic accommodations so your athlete can continue with school as they heal.
Steps to help guide recovery
For the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury, we recommend rest and recovery. After this brief rest period, our goal is to get your student-athlete back into a normal routine as quickly as possible without making symptoms worse.
After the evaluation in the clinic, your provider will recommend a return-to-school or return-to-learn protocol and give recommendations on what type of exercise your student-athlete can do. We encourage light exercise such as walking, jogging, or a stationary bike. We do not allow sports, physical education, weight lifting or contact sports until your athlete is symptom-free.
Once your athlete is symptom-free, we recommend a step-wise return to play that usually follows this progression:
Light aerobic exercise: stationary cycling/brisk walking.
Moderate activity: initiation of running and weightlifting at moderate intensity.
Non-contact drills: increase intensity of previous activities, begin non-contact sport-specific training.
Return to full-contact practice after medical clearance by a physician.
Return to full competition or game play.
Concussion symptoms typically last two to four weeks, but during this time we promote an active rehabilitation and not complete rest. This way, your student-athlete can stay fit and focused while still giving their body time to heal from the injury.