Concussions are one of the most common types of minor head injuries. Each year, 300,000 Americans suffer concussions related to sports and recreation activities, according to the Franklin Institute. If you've suffered a concussion or other minor head injury, you may be tempted to get right back into your sports or exercise regimen. However, the risks of exercising too soon after a minor head injury are far greater than the rewards.
Same Day Play
Concussions are caused by a hard blow to the head; symptoms, according to MayoClinic.com, include confusion, amnesia, loss of consciousness, nausea or vomiting, and slurred speech. It is imperative that those who have suffered concussions not return to sports the same day, even if they seem fine. Getting hit on the head again can cause second impact syndrome, which can be fatal, reports FamilyDoctor.org.
There is no set timeframe for head injury recovery. MayoClinic.com recommends that anyone who has experienced head injury symptoms lasting more than 15 minutes, or who has lost consciousness or experienced amnesia, not return to sports or exercise for at least a week, while FamilyDoctor.org gives a time-frame of 1 to 2 weeks for a mild concussion and up to a month for more severe concussions. Recovery time is based on symptoms; you should consider returning to play only after your symptoms have disappeared completely, warns MayoClinic.com
Risks of Returning to Play Too Soon
Returning to sports or exercise too soon after a concussion is dangerous. If you get hurt again before you have had enough time to heal, the effects can be cumulative, which puts you at risk for serious neurological problems, reports MayoClinic.com. Playing in a big game, or getting in a few days of exercise, simply isn't worth putting yourself at risk for permanent brain damage.
Though awareness of the severity of concussions and other “minor” head injuries is increasing, you may find yourself under pressure to return to play before you're fully recovered, especially if you are a student athlete. Some high schools allow coaches to determine when an athlete is ready to return to the sport, while other coaches or athletic directors find themselves dealing with parents who pound on their doors demanding that their child be allowed to play, reports "In Denver Times." Neither coaches or parents are qualified to decide when an athlete has recovered, in most cases; a doctor should be the one making that decision.