Concussion Recovery and Coping with Boredom
Concussion Recovery Tips for Relieving Boredom
Concussions and children are not a great combination, but it happens. Active children find rest and recovery boring, but without it, they won't heal. So how did we avoid the boredom that comes with concussion recovery? A bit of structured research and we found lots of things to do.
Any family dealing with a child's concussion knows that having a concussed, bored child is not a good situation, but managing the symptoms of concussion and boredom without driving the family insane is possible. Here is our list of suggested most of which are useful for either adults or children recovering from a concussion.
Have You or Your Child / Children Had a Concussion? - How common is it?
(If you have multiple concussions in your family, please answer for the most severe injury.)
How did your child (or you when you were a child) get a concussion?
Our Snowboarding Accident
In Sept 2009, our daughter (then a current New Zealand Jr. National Snowboard Champion) took a hard fall while snowboarding and knocking herself out. She was wearing a helmet. It was less than two weeks after a prior fall that they later concluded had left her mildly concussed. This second concussion left her with a need for a slow, restful recovery. She was cut off from sports, screen time, new learning (no schooling), and even reading.
**Update (11 months after the accident) - While she has returned to most activity, the doctors are still keeping her out of any competitive sport for a bit longer.
**Update (12 months): Fully recovered.
We are not medical professionals. This is our story and activities which worked for us. If you have a concussion or any brain injury, be sure to confirm any activities with your medical team before giving it a try.
The Story of Our Child's Concussion Recovery
There Was Nothing We Could Do To Heal Her Concussion Quicker
**But plenty of things which needed to be avoided as they would slow recovery
Things She Was Told to Avoid While Letting Her Concussion Recover:
- Any sport which one might wear a helmet including skiing, snowboarding, bicycling, rock climbing, horse riding, or skateboarding.
- Any sport/activity with sudden acceleration or deceleration including swinging on a swing, bouncing on a trampoline, or amusement park rides.
- Any sport/activity that could involve a collision with others or a fall including wakeboarding, windsurfing, running games with friends, laser force, or sailing.
- Any activity with stimuli: movies, going shopping malls, or public events.
- Any activity which involves new learning or concentration including education, reading of new materials, or puzzles.
- Screen time (this was limited to 30 minutes per day) including television, computers, Nintendo, or Wii.
Learn More About Concussion and Children
We read quite a bit. This book we found to be the most helpful, especially early on when it was difficult for us, as parents, to watch and understand what is going on, and why.
After we had stopped feeling sorry for ourselves, we were able to come up with quite a long list of activities to avoid boredom and not impede recovery.
All suggestions on our list were approved for our daughter by a member of her medical team.
Some we tried, some we didn't, but they are all here to help you. Remember to clear them with your own doctors.
Outdoor Activities: Repetitive Tasks to Ease the Boredom of Concussion Recovery
Sunlight, fresh air—I love the outdoors!
- Planting flowers or trees
- Beach/Sand play
- Flying a kite
- Collecting shells, autumn leaves, stones, or anything
- Washing the car
- Fishing (supervised)
- Clam picking
Indoor Activities: Concussion Boredom Doesn't Stop on Cold and Rainy Days
Some days, being outdoors just isn't a great option.
- Take a nap
- Do crafts
- Re-read familiar books
- Watch fish in a tank or aquarium
- Play with gentle animals
- Talk with friends
- Make a movie (but watch out for too much screen time)
- Take photos
- Relax in a bubble bath
- Listen to books on CD or stories on the Internet
- Paint a room
The Concussed Brain Needs Rest
Just like you wouldn't run on a broken leg and expect it to heal if your child has a brain injury, they need to rest their brain so it can heal.
Crafts which Helped with the Boredom from Being Concussed
We use several craft books, The Really Big Book of Cool Crafts for Kids is our current favorite. A few of the craft ideas we discovered from other sources:
- Quilting, patchwork, or applique
- Braiding friendship bracelets
- Basket weaving with palm leaf or other natural substance
- Drawing, sketching, or tracing
- Coloring-in: Get coloring books or download pictures from the web
- Painting pictures: Vary your medium: acrylic, watercolor, tempera, oil pastel, chalk pastel, felt tip markers, gel pens, or crayons
- Painting on various surfaces: jars, wood, ceramics, terracotta planters
- Making candles
- Origami and making paper boats
- Shell crafts
- Making pencil holders
- Making rope
- Making paper flowers
- Molding and creating with clay
- Making latch hook rugs or pot holders
- Beading necklaces, bracelets, or headbands
Gentle Physical Activities After Recovery Has Progressed
Remember to get medical clearance before undertaking anything physical.
When our daughter's acute concussion symptoms (headaches, dizziness, confusion, and exhaustion) were gone, her doctors began getting her fitness level back. We started out slow.
- Swimming laps
- Ocean swimming in calm water (low wind, minimal to no waves)
- Stationary bicycling on a cross trainer or treadmill
- Kayaking or rowing
Here is a comment from a mom named Jenni:
"My son is recovered now so just thought I would add some more things we tried since reading this site out loud was one of our activities that was helpful! We did painting, modeling with clay/model magic, we found a kit where you design and decorate your own football which was crafty and good for a sports minded boy, we also bought mesh and strings from the lacrosse store and my son tried to learn how to string his lacrosse stick which was crafty and wasted lots of time! I also pulled out the dusty Thomas train set from preschool and we built a huge train track across the living room, so don't forget about your old toys, they do come in handy. We also tried building sets of the newer lego knockoffs like LaQ and Nanoblocks. It was a more exciting challenge after 3 days of old school legos. And my son wore sunglasses all day for his first few days back at school which helped with the fluorescent lighting bothering him. Again, thank you for this wonderful article, it really saved the day!"
Thanks Jenny for taking the time to come back and share this with us. It is good to know that you have benefited from our experience. Thanks for sharing these other ideas which helped your son.
Read More About Concussions and Children:
The term "concussion" conjures up the image of a child knocked unconscious while playing sports. But concussions can happen with any head injury, often without any loss of consciousness.
- Sports-Related Concussions on the Rise in Kids
The number of children treated in hospital ERs for concussions they got while playing on sports teams has doubled in just a decade, a new study shows.
A Few Credits and Thank Yous:
Many of the ideas on this list were gathered from:
Estelle Borer of Kidz Therapy, Silverdale, New Zealand
Dr. Cynthia Sharpe of Concussion Specialists, Auckland, New Zealand
Friends at the Homeschool Lounge
© 2010 Rhonda Albom