8 Activities Your Child Can Do With a Concussion

School-aged girl coloring in a coloring book
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A concussion is one type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a sudden blow to the head. As the brain is forced back and forth inside the skull, it can suffer chemical changes or brain cell damage. Among children and teens, concussions often occur during sports or activities like skateboarding or biking.

Concussion symptoms vary from child to child. Some experience sensitivity to bright lights and loud noises. Others have severe headaches, nausea, and mental fog. Current guidelines for most concussion patients involve physical and cognitive rest for the first few days, followed by a gradual introduction of activity after that.

No parent enjoys telling their once active kid that they must slow down and wait it out. But the "stepwise" approach to returning to activity allows the brain to heal and prevents further injury during the recovery process.

Here are some fun activities to keep your child busy during their concussion recovery. Always follow your doctor's guidance regarding treatment and rest, and stop any concussion recovery activities that cause or worsen symptoms.

Concussion recovery times vary from person to person. Children and teens typically take longer to recover than adults. Expect the recovery process to take at least a few weeks, with activity increasing gradually over time.

1. Simple Crafts 

Crafts can be a good way to pass the time. There are several simple crafts that can keep your child busy without getting overwhelmed. Your child may even want to give away some of their handcrafted items as gifts to friends and family.

  • Braid fleece blankets using old sheets you have around the house.
  • Cut paper snowflakes or simple origami animals they already know how to make.
  • Color with crayons or markers in coloring books or on pages printed from the internet.
  • Make friendship bracelets with embroidery floss, small stretchy bands, or beads.
  • Paint ceramic plates and jars using craft kits from the art store.
  • Paint simple abstract art by shaking a paintbrush dipped in paint over the paper to create a splatter effect.

2. Quiet Visits With Friends 

School-age youth don't like to be away from school and their peers. Having a friend come over for a quiet face-to-face visit can help alleviate loneliness and boredom. Visits from friends may also help keep your child from feeling the need to text or use social media to maintain contact with their friends, making it easier to reduce screen time during concussion recovery.

3. Simple Cooking and Baking

Make a simple yet delicious treat with your child. Remember, you want to avoid anything that may require thinking to learn new skills. This is the time for boxed pudding, tasty noodles, cookie and brownie mixes, and other simple prepared foods that are easy to put together. You can do the measuring for younger cooks, while older cooks may need less help.

4. Nature Walks

Your child can head out to the yard or driveway to look for rocks, plants, flowers, or other common objects and bring them indoors for a collection. Getting outside offers your child some fresh air and an opportunity to move while providing a calm, recovery-safe activity. Remember to keep nature walks calm and gentle. Concussion recovery isn't the time for an arduous hike.

5. Spend Time With a Pet

Do you have a cat or dog that likes to snuggle, but doesn't play rough anymore? Perhaps a pet fish that shimmers while swimming in a tank? A young rabbit that enjoys lap-sitting? Quiet, calm pets can provide entertainment and cuddles that won't overwhelm the senses while your child recovers from a concussion.

6. Zen Gardens

Do you remember the small Zen gardens that were popular office decorations in the early 2000s? Create one for your child to use for relaxing play. Fill a shallow container such as a casserole dish or pie pan with sand and add some small interesting objects. Your child or teen can spend time drawing in the sand itself or arranging the objects in the sand garden.

7. Picnics

A picnic in a quiet park setting (not a playground) that is already familiar to your child can also provide a change of scenery while avoiding thinking, loud noises, or too much visual stimulation. If your child is not ready to return to school, you can take advantage of the fact that most other children will be in school during the day, and not at the park. If not the park, a picnic at home in the yard or on the patio will do just as well.

8. Relaxing Baths

You know how much you enjoy a relaxing bath? Your child can enjoy one, too. Find ways to make the bath a fun experience for them during concussion recovery. Lots of bubbles or a few containers to pour water back and forth can provide calm entertainment. You can also adjust the lighting if they are sensitive to light. Kids may enjoy colorful bath bombs, too.

A Word From Verywell

Hopefully, your child won't be home for too long while they wait to return to their regular activities like school or sports. Remind your child often of how important it is to take their time with concussion recovery. Risking too much activity only lengthens the recovery process and can even lead to long-term effects.

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  1. Lumba-Brown A, Yeates KO, Sarmiento K, et al. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guideline on the diagnosis and management of mild traumatic brain injury among childrenJAMA Pediatr. 2018;172(11):e182853. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.2853

  2. Dalecki M, Albines D, Macpherson A, Sergio LE. Prolonged cognitive-motor impairments in children and adolescents with a history of concussion. Concussion. 2016;1(3):CNC14. doi:10.2217/cnc-2016-0001