Coping with a Concussion

Coping with a Concussion

Concussions are very painful and may result in brain damage. Here are a few tips to help you cope with a concussion and make a speedy recovery:

Rest your brain. In the early stages of recovery get plenty of sleep at night, and rest during the day. Reduce the demands you make of your brain.  If you are reading, watching TV, checking e-mails or worrying you are not resting your brain. Use Sleep Hygiene techniques if you are having trouble sleeping.

Reduce physical and mental demands. Physical and mental demands can make your symptoms worse and slow your recovery. Avoid activities that are physically demanding or require a lot of concentration. Avoid activities that could lead to a second concussion. It is best to avoid jarring movements such as running, jumping on trampolines, riding roller coasters or other high-speed rides that can make your symptoms worse. 

Use strategies for your thinking problems. Consult with family members or close friends when making important decisions. Avoid using the computer for long periods of time early in the recovery process. 

Take care of your basic needs. Make time for careful grooming and hygiene daily. Take care of your appearance and clothing. Eat three nutritious meals a day. DO NOT SKIP BREAKFAST. Avoid/limit caffeine, salt, sugar, and junk food. Keep hydrated by drinking lots of water.

Say no to drugs and alcohol. Alcohol and other drugs will slow your recovery and put you at risk of further injury. Take only those drugs that your doctor has approved. Do not drink alcohol until your doctor says you are well enough.

Get help for pain and headaches. If you have headaches or body pain you will not be able to sleep and are more likely to be irritable. Review medication and other treatment options with your doctor. 

Be especially careful if you are dizzy and have poor balance. Be very careful to avoid falls or hits to the head. Take special care in your actions and movements. Move slowly and constantly be aware of your surroundings. Do not climb stepladders or work from heights. 

Pay attention to your mood and level of stress. Stress, irritability, sadness and anxiety are common and normal reactions to having to cope with your symptoms and the changes in your lifestyle. Find ways to relax. Keep a positive and optimistic outlook. Feel confident in the healing process, know that  you are improving, focus on your strengths, have realistic expectations, look for opportunities in your current situation, and set short term goals. Maintain social connections with friends, but keep it low key initially. 

Resume exercise and sports gradually. Avoid any strenuous exercise or activity in the first few days or weeks following your concussion. Once your symptoms settle down start with light aerobic exercises, such as walking. Gradually increase frequency, then duration, and finally intensity of exercise. If your symptoms get worse, then reduce the intensity and duration. Get your doctors consent before returning to intensive exercise or competitive sports. 

Resume work and school gradually. Plan for success. Start by slowly building your cognitive and physical endurance. Just like resuming exercise, it is important that you return to work or school in a graduated way and start with activities that are within your abilities.  Slowly increase the duration and frequency that you work/study. You may initially need modified work duties or a reduced course load. Working a shorter day, working fewer days and taking frequent rest breaks during the day may be necessary. Getting permission for additional time to write an exam may be possible. Talk with your doctor about the requirements of your work/studies, the modifications you need and when you can return to work school. Keep your employer aware of what is going on. Meet with the advisor for students with disabilities in the counseling department at your college / university to plan for your needs. Make sure you have a good quality, properly fitted hard hat (if required) and follow the safety procedures mandated on work sites

Prevent a 2nd, 3rd………..or 4th concussion. As you are healing, take care to avoid having another concussion. At all times be smart about the risks you take and adopt an attitude of prevention. 

To learn more about how to improve your concussion recovery visit:


“Coping with symptoms and getting better.” Coping with symptoms and getting better | Brainstreams.Ca, 2012, Accessed 2 Sept. 2017.