What is a concussion? 

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury. Although they are “mild”, concussions do involve an injury to the brain and it is important that you allow yourself time to heal.   At a microscopic level, the neuronal axons in your brain have been stretched and torn and a number of brain areas will be affected by this damage.

How long does a concussion last?  

Many people recovery quickly and are able to return to normal activities within a week or two, however for others it will take longer to recover. Unfortunately, there is no way to predict how quickly someone’s concussion will heal.


There are a wide range of symptoms associated with concussions. Common symptoms include:

·       headaches, dizziness & fatigue

·       balance or coordination problems

·       nausea/vomiting

·       feeling “dinged”, “foggy”, “stunned”, or “dazed”, mental confusion

·       being easily distracted, poor concentration

·       delayed response to questions

·       slurred speech

·       vacant staring or glassy eyed

·       increased sensitivity to light, noise and smells

·       visual problems (seeing stars, flashing lights, double vision)

·       hearing problems (ringing in the ears, difficulty hearing)

·       irritability or aggression

·       emotional changes (e.g. anxiety or depression)

·       personality changes

·   problems with memory, difficulty remembering things  

How to deal with your concussion

The most important thing for you to do is rest, both physically and mentally, while you are recovering from your concussion. This rest will allow your brain time to heal.

Immediately following your concussion you should stop all physical/athletic and academic activities for at least 24 hours.

During this time you should avoid:

·       excessive movements

·       bright lights

·       school work

·       working on a computer, tablet or smart phone

·       playing videogames

·       watching TV

·       reading

  All of these activities may trigger or worsen your concussion symptoms. You should re-assess your symptoms after you have rested.

Step-wise return to play policy

It is essential that you wait for your concussion to heal before you resume physical activity. Attempting to return to play before your symptoms resolve may increase the length of your recovery time and also puts you at risk for more serious injuries.

After you have been symptom free for at least 24 hours, contact the athletic therapist to discuss your return to play. You should begin physical/athletic activities “a bit at a time” and under the athletic therapist’s guidance. If symptoms return while performing any of the steps described below stop immediately and return to rest. If your symptoms do not return after 24 hours, you may move on to the next step in the sequence.

1.     Start with light cardio activity for a maximum of 20 minutes. Stop immediately if any of your symptoms return. The goal is to reach approximately 60% of your maximum heart rate.  

2.     Return to sport specific drills of approximately 30-40 minutes. There must be absolutely no contact during these drills.

3.     Return to full practice with a red shirt (no contact). The goal is to reach maximum heart rate.

4.     Return to full practice. You must complete a full practice before returning to competition.

 Step-wise return to school protocol

Just like with physical activity, it is essential that you wait for your concussion to heal before you resume normal academic activities. Attempting to return to school before your symptoms resolve may increase the length of your recovery time and be counterproductive.

Immediately following a concussion, it is recommended that you stop all physical/athletic and academic activities for a period of at least 24 hours. During this time period you should be resting (physically and mentally).

Avoid excessive movement, bright lights, school work, working on a computer, texting, playing videogames, and watching TV…these type of activities all tend to aggravate concussion symptoms.

Inform your professors/instructors (or ask your coach, the athletic therapist, or the Meighen Centre to inform them) that you have suffered from a concussion and that this might impact your activities in class.

Re-assess your symptoms after 24 hours. If you are symptom-free you can begin to return to your athletic and academic activities in a step-wise manner. If not, continue resting.

After you have been symptom free for at least 24 hours, you can begin the return to academic activities. If symptoms return or worsen while performing any of the steps described below it is recommended that you return to rest.

1.     Prepare to return to academic activities

·      Begin to engage in light mental activity (for example, reading) for short periods of time (for example, 15 minutes a couple of times per day).

·      Limit other mental/cognitive activities, especially those known to worsen concussion symptoms like using a computer, texting and playing videogames.

·      The goal is to begin to engage in short periods of light mental activity while avoiding any activities likely to trigger or worsen symptoms.   

2.     Begin light academic activities

·      Return to class.

·      You may wish to return to a single class, or a limited number of classes at first; pick a class that is scheduled during a time period where you are typically alert and symptom-free.

·      Try to arrange for someone else to take notes; focus on paying attention and participating during class times.

·      Change your seating arrangement if you find you are easily distracted (for example, ask to sit at the front of the room so you are not sidetracked by students in front of you).

·      Work on short/small assignments.

·      Work for short periods of time and rest between academic work sessions.

·      Avoid working on a computer if it causes headaches, eye strain, or neck/head tension.

·      Begin reading course materials for short periods of time.

·      Continue to limit other problematic cognitive activities (e.g. playing on the internet, texting, watching TV, etc.) to short periods of time.

·      The goal is to increase the amount of time you can spend on mental/academic activities and also to increase the number of mental/academic activities you engage in.

3.     Increase your academic workload

·      Return to more/all classes.

·      Begin taking notes during class time.

·      Work on major assignments, tests and projects.

·      The goal is to return to normal levels of mental/academic activities.

4.     Return to your normal academic workload

·      Return to all classes.

   ·      Arrange to take tests & complete major

 Download the complete document with additional information or to print here: Information on concussions