There are steps you can take to help your brain heal and speed recovery.
Physical and mental rest
In the first few days after a concussion, relative rest is the most appropriate way to allow your brain to recover. Your doctor will recommend that you physically and mentally rest to recover from a concussion.
Relative rest, which includes limiting activities that require thinking and mental concentration, is recommended for the first two days after a concussion. However, complete rest, such as lying in a dark room and avoiding all stimuli, does not help recovery and is not recommended. In the first 48 hours, you should overall limit activities that require high mental concentration — such as playing video games, watching TV, doing schoolwork, reading, texting or using a computer — if these activities cause your symptoms to worsen.
You also should avoid physical activities that increase any of your symptoms, such as general physical exertion, sports or any vigorous movements, until these activities no longer provoke your symptoms.
After a period of relative rest, it's recommended that you gradually increase daily activities such as screen time if you can tolerate them without triggering symptoms. You can start both physical and mental activities at levels that do not cause a major worsening of symptoms. Light exercise and physical activity as tolerated starting a few days after injury have been shown to speed recovery; however, you should avoid any activities that have a high risk of exposure to another head impact until you are fully recovered.
Your doctor may recommend that you have shortened school days or workdays, take breaks during the day, or have modified or reduced school workloads or work assignments as you recover from a concussion. Your doctor may recommend different therapies as well, such as rehabilitation for vision, rehabilitation for balance problems, or cognitive rehabilitation for problems with thinking and memory.
Returning to routine activity
As your symptoms improve, you may gradually add more activities that involve thinking, such as doing more schoolwork or work assignments, or increasing your time spent at school or work.
Your doctor will tell you when it's safe for you to resume light physical activity. Usually after the first few days after injury, you're allowed to do light physical activity — such as riding a stationary bike or light jogging — before your symptoms are completely gone, so long as it doesn't significantly worsen symptoms.
Eventually, once all signs and symptoms of concussion have resolved, you and your doctor can discuss the steps you'll need to take to safely play sports again. Resuming sports too soon increases the risk of another brain injury.
Headaches may occur in the days or weeks after a concussion. To manage pain, ask your doctor if it's safe to take a pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others). Avoid other pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and aspirin, as these medications may increase the risk of bleeding.