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Concussions: Getting Better

What's a Concussion?

If you get a concussion, it means that you've injured your brain and you need to give it time to get better. That usually means rest. It also means following a doctor's advice on the things you can — and can't — do as you heal.

All body parts take time to heal, even brains. If your brain is injured again before the first injury heals, it can lead to serious medical problems.

The good news is that following a doctor's instructions at home lets most teens recover from concussions in a week or two without lasting health problems.

How Can I Feel Better After a Concussion?

Sometimes, if concussions are serious enough, doctors send patients to the hospital for care. But most of the time, doctors send patients home to rest.

When you're at home, you're in charge of your own care. Take the role seriously and make sure you have what you need to follow all your doctor's recommendations — like being able to stay in a dark or quiet room, if that is what makes you feel better. It's the only way to help your brain heal fast and get you back in your best form for sports, studying, and other things that matter.

Here are the top things to do when healing from a concussion at home:

Your doctor may want you to do some or all of these things:

When Can I Get Back to Normal Activities?

One thing is key in healing from a concussion: You need to get the OK from your doctor before you play sports or start doing any physical activities. Even if you feel better, your thinking, behavior, and balance might not be back to normal yet.

If you play sports and a coach or school official wants you to start playing again before a doctor says it's OK, don't let yourself get talked into it. Almost every state has rules about when kids and teens can play sports again after a concussion. These rules are there to protect players so they're not pushed into getting back in the game too soon — when the risk of a second, more serious injury is high.

Hurrying back to sports and other physical activities increases the risk of a condition called second-impact syndrome. This can happen if someone gets a second head injury. It's rare, but you don't want to be the person who gets it because it can cause lasting brain damage and even death.

Anyone with a concussion needs to heal completely before doing anything that could lead to another concussion.

How Will I Know When I'm Healed?

Concussions are different from most injuries. Scabs peel and bruises fade. But you can't see when your brain is healed.

Doctors have several ways to predict when someone's brain is healed. Because every concussion is different, though, it can be tricky to decide when someone is OK to play sports or do other activities.

A doctor will consider you healed when:

After a doctor tells you it's OK to start doing your normal activities again, ease back into things. Stop playing right away if any symptoms return. You only get one brain — don't take any chances with it!

Date reviewed: May 2017

Note: All information on TeensHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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