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The most important treatment for concussions is physical and mental rest. This gives the body a break from moving and thinking, so the brain can heal. Depending on your child’s symptoms, he or she may need to stay home from school for a few days.
Physical and mental rest includes:
Although no medication can “cure” a concussion, your child's doctor may prescribe medication to help with any symptoms, such as headaches or trouble sleeping. If you have questions about any medication or are concerned about side effects, call or see your doctor right away.
Michael O’Brien, MD, director of our Sports Concussion Clinic, and Marilou Shaughnessy, PsyD, sports psychologist from the Sports Medicine Division, offer some advice about what to expect after a concussion.
The most common complication of a concussion is a delayed or lengthy recovery. If your child's symptoms aren't getting any better after the first few days—or if they are becoming worse—call your doctor.
If your child has any of the following symptoms, seek emergency care right away:
Returning to sports after a concussion is a gradual process that takes place over a series of steps. Your child’s doctor will explain the specific steps for your child’s recovery, but they usually include:
If concussion symptoms start again, your child should see the doctor right away. He or she may need to go back to the previous step (or several previous steps) until the symptoms go away and the doctor gives the OK to move forward.
Remember, it's critical that your child not rush back to the playing field before the concussion has healed; this increases the risk of another concussion and more serious problems. Don’t let your child's coach, trainer or fellow athletes pressure him or her to returning to play too soon.
How often your child will need to see the doctor for follow-up care—and for how long—depends on your child’s specific injury and symptoms. Some children need only annual check-ups, while others may require ongoing assessments and testing. Ask your doctor for a detailed follow-up plan.
You can learn more about concussions through the following resources:
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”