Concussions are a common occurrence among kids and teens, often resulting from sports, accidents, or other activities. While they are typically consider mild traumatic brain injuries, the effects can be significant. Proper management and recovery are crucial to ensure kids and teens get back on track to their daily lives and activities after a concussion.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a form of mild traumatic brain injury that can occur as a result of a direct or indirect blow to the head, or sometimes body with forces to the head. Concussion research has shown that individuals can experience a wide variety of symptoms, and they can differ greatly in children and teens. These symptoms can impact them during activities that occur during the day, and managing these on a case-by-case basis is critical for the right treatment.
If your child or teen sustains a head injury and you suspect a concussion, the first step is to seek immediate medical attention. A healthcare professional will evaluate their condition and recommend the appropriate concussion recovery process. Essentials for the stages of concussion recovery for kids and teens often include rest, sleep, and diet. We’ll explain more about each category below.
Prior to new research, concussions were generally managed by putting patients on complete cognitive rest (dim or dark rooms, limited light and sound, no screens) until symptoms fully resolved.
New research treatment of post-concussion syndrome recommends that kids and teens need 24-48 hours of complete cognitive rest, before slowly returning to activity.This should be a combination of both physical and mental activity. Some examples include:
- Watching TV for brief intervals at low brightness settings
- Listening to audio books, drawing or coloring
- Physical activity like an easy walk
- Limit screen time for a full 60 minutes before bed
- Avoid caffeine
- Engaging in some light physical activity a few hours before bed
- Get to bed at consistent times
Light and sound sensitivity
- Use of sunglasses indoors
- Noise-cancelling headphones
- Screens can be set to night-mode
Making sure patients eat a well-balanced diet with quality fats, and avoiding high amounts of sugars, processed foods and caffeine is also important for concussion recovery.
Monitoring Concussion Symptoms
It’s important to keep a close eye on your child’s or teen’s symptoms throughout the concussion recovery process. Concussion symptoms can evolve or worsen, and any changes should be reported to their healthcare provider.