When seeking concussion recovery, immediate and correct action can make all the difference. Recovery time varies based on the type and severity of an injury, and working with a healthcare provider experienced in establishing healing timelines and essential care steps is essential. This article strips the ambiguity surrounding concussion recovery to deliver straightforward advice on early actions, expected recovery periods, and long-term strategies to ensure you or your loved one returns to health safely and effectively.

Key Takeaways

  • A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that can lead to symptoms such as memory issues, balance difficulties, and mood changes, with recovery times of around 14 days for adults and up to 30 days for those under 18.
  • Initial concussion recovery necessitates both physical and mental rest, with careful symptom monitoring and a staged approach to reintroducing activities, emphasizing the importance of gradual progression and avoidance of a second injury.
  • Comprehensive concussion care includes personalized treatment plans and may involve innovative therapies like hyperbaric oxygen therapy alongside lifestyle adjustments and rehabilitation strategies that focus on cognitive and emotional support, especially for athletes.

Understanding Concussion and Its Impact on Brain Function

Concussions are a significant health concern and they require our understanding and attention. A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury, often resulting from a bump, blow, or hit to the head.1Concussions happen when a sudden movement causes the brain to move unnaturally within the inner skull. This injury can disrupt normal brain function, leading to symptoms such as memory issues, balance difficulties, and mood changes.

Typically, neuroimaging tests may not reveal significant physical changes in cases of concussion, necessitating neuropsychological or neurocognitive tests to evaluate the effects on memory and concentration. 

Repeated concussions, even mild ones, can result in prolonged recovery and more severe symptoms, emphasizing the importance of taking head injuries, including brain injuries, seriously.

The Initial Steps Post-Concussion

Promptly recognizing concussion symptoms and seeking immediate medical care are essential steps toward recovery. More severe symptoms like repeated vomiting, loss of consciousness, severe headaches, and unusual drowsiness necessitate immediate medical care.:


Strict monitoring of the injured individual during the 24 hours following a concussion can help identify behavioral changes and any escalating symptoms. To prevent further injury and any additional harm, the injured person should refrain from strenuous activities or sports until a thorough medical examination is completed.

The Recovery Timeline: From Acute Phase to Symptom-Free

Recovery from a concussion requires patience. For most adults, concussion recovery typically takes around 14 daysl individuals under 18 may take a bit longer, typically up to 30 days for a full recovery. However, a lack of sufficient rest may extend recovery timelines, especially if a patient avoids careful adherence  to doctor recommendations.

Let’s delve into the three crucial phases of the concussion recovery journey.

Early Recovery: Rest and Symptom Monitoring

The initial days following a concussion are of utmost importance. Both physical and mental rest are indispensable for a safe recovery. Reduce screen time during this phase is especially beneficial; clinical trials show avoiding electronic screens for the first 48 hours can significantly reduce the duration of symptoms.

Symptom monitoring symptoms holds equal significance. Parents and caregivers should pay close attention to any worsening signs and symptoms within the first 24 to 48 hours following a concussion. Activities requiring critical thinking or an elevated heart rate should be reduced or avoided until cleared by a healthcare provider experienced in concussion management.

Gradual Reintroduction of Activities

Shifting toward reintroducing activities after a concussion is a delicate process and requires careful handling. Healthcare providers typically recommend a staged approach, starting with the return to regular activities such as school or work, followed by light aerobic exercises, and eventually progressing to moderate and heavy physical activities.

Typically, as symptoms improve, most patients can start resuming normal physical activity, initially with short periods of light aerobic exercises like using a stationary bike or walking.

Long-Term Care and Avoiding a Second Concussion

Post-concussion, long-term care holds considerable importance, particularly in circumventing a second concussion. Second impact syndrome can lead to acute brain swelling and a second concussion can be potentially fatal if it occurs before full recovery from the initial concussion. Post-concussion syndrome involves persistent symptoms such as memory and concentration problems, mood swings, and headaches that can last for several weeks to months.2

To facilitate recovery and prevent additional damage, a healthcare provide may urge extreme caution. Concussion recovery typically involves avoiding unnecessary head and neck movements and paying attention to factors like neck injury, dizziness, vision problems, sleep difficulties, and new or worsening mood symptoms

Personalized Concussion Care at Plus by APN

Plus by APN provides a comprehensive approach to concussion care. We provide personalized treatment plans tailored to each individual’s unique story and the latest scientific research, combining interventional psychiatry with modern healthcare techniques. Beyond traditional medication, Plus by APN employs innovative treatments, such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy, to aid in the recovery process.

The Role of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in Healing

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a promising treatment in the field of concussion care. It involves:

  • Breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized environment
  • Enhancing tissue oxygenation
  • Suppressing inflammation
  • Decreasing apoptosis

All of these factors contribute to the post-concussion healing process.

Moreover, HBOT promotes neurogenesis and angiogenesis,3 aiding in the improvement of neurological deficits and cognitive impairments resulting from a traumatic brain injury. While further research is necessary to determine HBOT’s conclusive benefits, clinical studies have observed an association between HBOT and a reduction in mortalities and improvement of neurological functions in TBI patients.

Lifestyle Adjustments for Optimal Recovery

Beyond medical treatments, recovering from a concussion may also involve lifestyle adjustments. Maintaining hydration and eating a balanced diet rich in proteins and omega-3s can support the recovery process.

Sufficient sleep is also vital, as it supports the body’s natural healing process. Refraining from mentally demanding activities such as work, school, or reading and limiting screen time immediately after a concussion can help avoid exacerbating symptoms.

Moreover, avoiding activities that could result in sports injuries, such as a second injury, is paramount.

Physical Rehabilitation Strategies

Concussion recovery significantly depends on physical rehabilitation. Vestibular rehabilitation therapy, for example, is known to be effective in reducing dizziness and enhancing gait and balance after a concussion.

Low-impact core exercises like press-ups and sit-ups, can help strengthen the core. However, anyone recovering from a concussion must consult a healthcare professional before reintroducing any movement. A healthcare provider may also recommend balance-focused movements. While physical activity typically benefits people of all ages, it’s essential to seek approval from a medical professional to avoid reinjury or worsening symptoms. Working with a physical therapist to incorporate concussion-safe stretches, strength training, and motion exercises can further support recovery efforts.

Cognitive and Emotional Support

During the recovery process, cognitive and emotional support plays a pivotal role. Post-concussion, patients may experience mood disturbances or sleep difficulties, requiring professional intervention in the form of counseling or medication.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be particularly beneficial for someone struggling with concussion symptoms. CBT uses techniques such as cognitive restructuring and guided discovery to help challenge negative thoughts, helping patients understand and adjust the interconnected patterns between cognition, emotion, and behavior.

Ensuring a calm and supportive recovery environment, including family-centered physcoeducation, is also key to managing stress and promoting favorable outcomes after a concussion. When friends and family have a foundational understanding of concussion symptoms and common challenges, they can better support a loved one working through recovery.

Precautions for Athletes: When to Resume Playing Sports

The recovery process from a concussion presents distinctive challenges for athletes. They must progress through six stages to safely return to play:

  1. Symptom-limited activities
  2. Light aerobic exercise
  3. Sport-specific exercise
  4. Non-contact training drills
  5. Full-contact practice
  6. Normal game play

Athletes need to follow this progression to ensure a safe and successful return to their sport.

Healthcare professionals should monitor the progression through these stages to ensure no new symptoms emerge and that cognitive functions are stable at each increased level of exertion. Each athlete’s return to play protocol must be tailored to their individual needs and personal concussion history, ensuring they are symptom-free and have medical clearance before a full resumption of activities as concussion symptoms resolve.

Compliance with the concussion policies of the state, league, or sports governing body is also of utmost importance, especially in contact sports.

Technology Use During Recovery: Screen Time Considerations

Technology usage can adversely influence concussion recovery.Post-concussion sensitivities often include an increased sensitivity to bright lights and loud sounds, both of which are common when using screens and can contribute to symptom exacerbation.4, 5


Navigating concussion recovery is complex, and understanding the journey is key to a successful recovery. From recognizing concussion symptoms and taking immediate steps, to the gradual reintroduction of activities and long-term care, every step matters.

The role of lifestyle adjustments, physical rehabilitation strategies, cognitive and emotional support, and precautions for athletes can’t be overstated. At Plus by APN, we offer innovative treatments like hyperbaric oxygen therapy tailored to each individual’s unique needs. Remember, every concussion is unique, and the path to recovery may differ. Listen to your body, follow your doctor’s advice, and give yourself the time you need to heal.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best things to do for a concussion?

After a concussion, your healthcare provider may recomment that you rest for the first couple of days, then gradually return to light thinking and physical activities. Light exercises like stationary biking or light jogging can also help speed up recovery, but you must receive approval from your doctor first and avoid any activities with a high risk of another head impact until fully recovered.

What are the three stages of a concussion?

Concussions can be categorized into three levels, based on type of severity: Grade I, Grade II, and Grade III each have specific criteria regarding loss of consciousness and amnesia. It’s important to identify the correct grade to ensure proper evaluation and treatment.

How long should you rest after a concussion?

After a 1-2 day period of rest, your healthcare provider may approve a gradual increase in cognitive and physical activity. Slow, supervised changes can support concussion recovery, but only with the approval of a medical professional. Typically, no more than 2 to 3 days of rest are required before gradually returning to work or school activities.

What not to do after a concussion?

After a concussion, it’s important to first consult a healthcare professional who will conduct a thorough evaluation and assessment of symptoms. Your doctor may advise avoiding activities that worsen symptoms, such as physical and mental exertion, exposure to bright lights, loud sounds, and screen time for the first few days. This will give your brain the necessary time to heal.

What is a concussion, and how does it affect the brain?

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that disrupts normal brain function and can cause symptoms like memory issues, balance difficulties, and mood changes. Concussions are often the result of a blow to the head or sudden movement.


  1. “What Is a Concussion?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Department of Health & Human Services, 12 Feb. 2019, www.cdc.gov/headsup/basics/concussion_whatis.html. 
  2. May T, Foris LA, Donnally III CJ. Second Impact Syndrome. [Updated 2023 Jul 3]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448119/
  3. Mu, Jun, et al. “Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Promotes Neurogenesis: Where Do We Stand?” Medical Gas Research, vol. 1, 2011, p. 14, https://doi.org/10.1186/2045-9912-1-14. Accessed 21 Mar. 2024.
  4. Abusamak, Mohammad, and Hamzeh M. Alrawashdeh. “Post-concussion Syndrome Light Sensitivity: A Case Report and Review of the Literature.” Neuro-Ophthalmology, vol. 46, no. 2, 2022, pp. 85-90, https://doi.org/10.1080/01658107.2021.1983612. Accessed 21 Mar. 2024.

Shepherd, Daniel et al. “Sensitivity to Noise Following a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: A Longitudinal Study.” The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation vol. 36,5 (2021): E289-E301. doi:10.1097/HTR.0000000000000645