What is Return to Play? Part 2 Concussion Education

Last week, we talked about what a concussion is and what precautions to take if you suspect one. This week, we’re getting into the process of safely returning a concussed individual back to their normal routine. This blog post is NOT meant to replace clinical judgement but should be used as an educational tool for you to further understand the clinical process and treatment of a concussion.

Concussion testing and management is a quickly evolving process. What was practised a few years ago has greatly changed with the accessibility of technology and the realization that concussions are not exclusive to professional athletes.

Return to Play is a concept that slowly integrates an athlete, that has suffered a concussion, back into their routine sport. It’s a management plan that initially prescribes both physical and cognitive rest. Physical rest is often well understood by patients, but the cognitive rest is sometimes more difficult to understand and implement.

Physical rest means avoiding activities that may result in an increase heart rate or breaking a sweat; it is important that the activities do not trigger or worsen symptoms.

Cognitive rest involves avoiding cognitive activity that may trigger or worsen symptoms. In its extreme form, this includes no school attendance, no homework/school work, no video games, no cell phone time, no computer time, and no television.

REASONING: Both types of rests help to optimize healing by reducing the brain’s workload in the the acute post-injury phase.