What Can I Do to Help Feel Better After a Concussion?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
What Can I Do to Help Feel Better After a Concussion/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury?

Although most people recover after a concussion, how quickly they improve depends on many factors. These factors include how severe their concussion was, their age, how healthy they were before the concussion, and how they take care of themselves after the injury.

Some people who have had a concussion find that at first it is hard to do their daily activities, their job, to get along with everyone at home, or to relax.

Rest is very important after a concussion because it helps the brain to heal. Ignoring your symptoms and trying to “tough it out” often makes symptoms worse. Be patient because healing takes time. Only when your symptoms have reduced significantly, in consultation with your health care professional, should you slowly and gradually return to your daily activities, such as work or school. If your symptoms come back or you get new symptoms as you become more active, this is a sign that you are pushing yourself too hard. Stop these activities and take more time to rest and recover. As the days go by, you can expect to gradually feel better.


Getting Better: Tips for Adults

  • Get plenty of sleep at night, and rest during the day.
  • Avoid activities that are physically demanding (e.g., heavy housecleaning, weightlifting/working-out) or require a lot of concentration (e.g., balancing your checkbook). They can make your symptoms worse and slow your recovery.
  • Avoid activities, such as contact or recreational sports, that could lead to another concussion. (It is best to avoid roller coasters or other high speed rides that can make your symptoms worse or even cause a concussion.)
  • When your health care professional says you are well enough, return to your normal activities gradually, not all at once.
  • Because your ability to react may be slower after a concussion, ask your health care professional when you can safely drive a car, ride a bike, or operate heavy equipment.
  • Talk with your health care professional about when you can return to work. Ask about how you can help your employer understand what has happened to you.
  • Consider talking with your employer about returning to work gradually and about changing your work activities or schedule until you recover (e.g., work half-days).
  • Take only those drugs that your health care professional has approved.
  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages until your health care professional says you are well enough. Alcohol and other drugs may slow your recovery and put you at risk of further injury.
  • Write down the things that may be harder than usual for you to remember.
  • If you’re easily distracted, try to do one thing at a time. For example, don’t try to watch TV while fixing dinner.
  • Consult with family members or close friends when making important decisions.
  • Do not neglect your basic needs, such as eating well and getting enough rest.
  • Avoid sustained computer use, including computer/video games early in the recovery process.
  • Some people report that flying in airplanes makes their symptoms worse shortly after a concussion.

Getting Better: Tips for Children

Parents and caregivers of children who have had a concussion can help them recover by taking an active role in their recovery:

  • Having the child get plenty of rest. Keep a regular sleep schedule, including no late nights and no sleepovers.
  • Making sure the child avoids high-risk/ high-speed activities such as riding a bicycle, playing sports, or climbing playground equipment, roller coasters or rides that could result in another bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body. Children should not return to these types of activities until their health care professional says they are well enough.
  • Giving the child only those drugs that are approved by the pediatrician or family physician.
  • Talking with their health care professional about when the child should return to school and other activities and how the parent or caregiver can help the child deal with the challenges that the child may face. For example, your child may need to spend fewer hours at school, rest often, or require more time to take tests.
  • Sharing information about concussion with parents, siblings, teachers, counselors, babysitters, coaches, and others who interact with the child helps them understand what has happened and how to meet the child’s needs.

Help Prevent Long-Term Problems

If you already had a medical condition at the time of your concussion (such as chronic headaches), it may take longer for you to recover from the concussion. Anxiety and depression may also make it harder to adjust to the symptoms of a concussion. While you are healing, you should be very careful to avoid doing anything that could cause a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body. On rare occasions, receiving another concussion before the brain has healed can result in brain swelling, permanent brain damage, and even death, particularly among children and teens.

After you have recovered from your concussion, you should protect yourself from having another one. People who have had repeated concussions may have serious long-term problems, including chronic difficulty with concentration, memory, headache, and occasionally, physical skills, such as keeping one’s balance.

Learn more about potential long-term outcomes of concussion and other forms of TBI.

Posted on BrainLine June 27, 2017.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016, January 22). Traumatic Brain Injury & Concussion. Retrieved November 17, 2017, from www.cdc.gov

Comments (3)

I want to say thank you for sharing.  It has helped me a lot.

My situation is the same. I am 60 years old, and my life changed Feb 6, 2019, when I fell on black ice. I was knocked unconscious, and a resident in my apartment complex found me. Since my injury I've had headache, nausea, anger, weeping, depression, and feeling hopeless.

I cannot do the things I love, like cooking and cleaning. I also have brain fog, confusion, short term memory loss, and I'm unable to remember what I am going to say. I opened up and told my family and fiance what was going on and my fears about if I will get better. My job also has been supportive. They want me to get better.

My doctor sent me to a neurologist for my care but what is bothering me is my symptoms are getting worse instead of better. It has been four weeks. After sharing I don't feel alone. I pray that what we share will bring clarity and healing take care

I never realized how a fall could rock your body to the core. I turned 70 in December 2018. On Jan.7th at 4 a.m. I passed out & fell on the bathroom floor face down. I have no idea how long I laid there. When I woke up my little dog was standing there looking at me. When I finally got up my left cheek hurt, my forehead hurt, I had a fat bottom lip & bit the inside of my mouth. I went back to bed & slept about 6 hrs. When I attempted to get up in the morning every inch of my head & body was stiff, sore & painful. I had a horrible headache. I went to my PA who did a neurological test, checked me physically & talked to me extensively. She ordered a CT scan of the brain the next day (neg. for bleed), saw me a few days later & my symptoms had not improved. I was experiencing more headaches, nausea but no vomiting & blurred vision, as well as dizziness. She ordered a panal of labs as well as a Carotid ultrasound. To date, my symptoms continue & now with extreme fatigue. I do search for words & my memory takes flight often. I have an extensive history of migraines going back to 16 years of age. I have a part-time job I love, & also take care of my 05-year old father - so I have stress. I would predict that my recovery is going to take a while. Most mornings I can't function for a couple hpurs when I first get up. My life has definitely changed since my fall. Any suggestions?

Thank you, I’ve been having headaches/migraine since my accident, I’m having trouble remembering stuff and not able to sleep and hard to think clearly, I feel nauseous in the morning sometimes, I m worried I was going crazy, I saw a P.A. From the urgent care clinic and she put me working because she said it was almost 3 weeks since I was hit by a drunk driver that give me concussion, feel anxious driving and at work, I have been trying to feel better but I have not, it’s scares me. I am going to keep trying to get better, Thank you for saying the truth and helps me know that I am not crazy because I can’t remember stuff and have headaches all the time the PA lady did nothing when I told her just put me to work doing reports and computer after drive hour for work. I went back to work and my second day I got sick and taken to hospital and kept me overnight and I’m going to see my doctor , an neurologist. Thank you.