Return to Play After Concussion | Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy
Friday September 30, 2022
by Lisa Brekke, PT, DPT

Your child played in the Friday night football game and had a big impact with another player. They were pulled from the game for a concussion. Now what?

First Few Days

A concussion can be due to the above scenario or many others. In the first few days following a concussion it is encouraged that the individual has relative cognitive and physical rest. Gentle movement like walking with a someone can be helpful as well as light activity around home keeping symptoms low. If an activity makes symptoms worse, it’s important to take a break or stop the activity for the time being. Other things that can be helpful are eating consistently. Even adding in snacks can help keep symptoms low, hydrating, and keeping a normal sleep schedule.

Return to Learn

The return to play protocols in Iowa have changed over the last few years and require return to learn before the athlete can even think about returning to play. Return to learn requires that the athlete can complete a full day of class with no accommodations, this includes PE. Accommodations can include increased time to get to their next class, extra breaks, seating adjustments, test parameters, limited activities in PE, and many more.  All accommodations needed post-concussion must be eliminated before the athlete can move into the return to play protocol.

Return to Play

Once your child has returned to school full time with no accommodations, they can enter the return to play protocol. This protocol progressively moves an athlete from light aerobic activity to full-contact practices (for sports that include contact) before returning them to play in a game. During the return to play protocol, athletes must be symptom free with each progression to move on. If they develop symptoms, they are to remain in the previous stage for 24 hours before attempting to progress to the next stage again. This progression should be guided by a licensed athletic trainer or physical therapist.

If for any reason during the return to learn or return to play protocols your child is having a hard time and is unable to progress Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy can help. Reach out online or at 866-588-0230 to talk to our care coordinator and set up your appointment.