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Concussion Recovery and Coping with Boredom

Updated on April 4, 2017
RhondaAlbom profile image

Rhonda is an award-winning travel writer/photographer at AlbomAdventures. Based in New Zealand she has visited 54 countries on 6 continents.

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?

See results

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.

Disclaimer

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

Coming off the mountain via ski patrol
Coming off the mountain via ski patrol

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

Coping with Concussion and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: A Guide to Living with the Challenges Associated with Post Concussion Syndrome a nd Brain Trauma
Coping with Concussion and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: A Guide to Living with the Challenges Associated with Post Concussion Syndrome a nd Brain Trauma

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
  • Gardening
  • Beach/Sand play
  • Picnicking
  • 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
  • Bake
  • Do crafts
  • Re-read familiar books
  • Watch fish in a tank or aquarium
  • Play with gentle animals
  • Doll-play
  • 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
  • Soap-carving
  • Origami and making paper boats
  • Poster-making
  • Shell crafts
  • Making pencil holders
  • Making rope
  • Paper-making
  • 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.

  • Walking
  • Swimming laps
  • Ocean swimming in calm water (low wind, minimal to no waves)
  • Hiking
  • Stationary bicycling on a cross trainer or treadmill
  • Kayaking or rowing

Comments

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.

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

Tell Us Your Concussion Story - All Comments Welcome

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    • profile image

      jordan 2 days ago

      thanks this kinda helped I guess I'm gunna be 14 in July and im a horse rider and my gelding bucked me off then kicked me in the head when I tried to get back up (i dont have a helmet) like 5 days ago and I got a good concussion I've been SO BORED and my mom won't let me do anything so I just thought I'd Google it. I'm still bored and I'm at the point where I get super mad if I'm told I'm not allowed to do something. thanks, again

    • profile image

      Maria 2 months ago

      Thank you so much for this article. It has such great ideas for activities for kids and teens.

      My 14 year suffered a concussion 5 weeks ago. He is attending school part-time and he has to limit so many of the activities he used to love doing. He has been getting bored. He will love these activities.

    • profile image

      Joel 3 months ago

      Arghh I got a concussion on Wednesday playing rugby I was sent home just before French today cuz I was dizzy but I'm so happy I found this site as I love baking, fishing etc. THANKS! Now I'm not as bored

    • profile image

      Ana 6 months ago

      Lol I just recently got a concussion from smacking part of my head into a concrete wall outside of a classroom on my way to the last class period of the day I sure am lucky

    • profile image

      JoAnn 8 months ago

      My 13 year old daughter plays tackle football on her school's team and got her first concussion the other night in a game (luckily mild). She's itching to get back on the field, but we've also had a couple very serious conversations about the possible long term effects if she tries to go back too early and gets another one. Happily, she's a pretty reasonable kid, and seems to understand that missing out now means that she'll likely be more use to her team later than if she got concussed again without proper recovery. The hardest part for her is going to be the boredom, sooo glad I found your site, and knowing that her coaches and team are suffering without her on both the offensive and defensive line. I'm glad her wrestling season starts right after football so that I can remind her that her recovery time might cut into that season if she gets too antsy and is tempted to sugarcoat how she's feeling. And she loves art, so I'm hoping coloring will go a long way too! Thanks!

    • profile image

      Jessie Riley 9 months ago

      After I got a concussion last year, 3 different doctors told me that coloring would help my brain recover... this was ironic because I owned a coloring book company. I've since published coloring books specifically to help with concussion recovery. If you're interested to learn the science behind coloring and how it can help with concussion recovery, please visit www.kitanie.com. (Kitanie Coloring Books) THANKS!

    • profile image

      Preston black 19 months ago

      You guys are awesome.!!!

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 23 months ago from Templeton, CA

      I remember when this first happened. It must have seemed a very long road ahead. I'm rejoicing that she has healed and is back to normal now.

    • profile image

      Joanna 23 months ago

      This is a great list! I would add Knitting to the list, there are both the kind with needles but there are also sets where you can make hats, scarves using a circular tool to make it easier on the focus issues.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 2 years ago from Canada

      Your suggestions for activities to keep you occupied while in recovery are wonderful. They can apply to many injuries or illness. Excellent suggestions.

    • profile image

      Matt Oslund 2 years ago

      thanks so much this was very useful

    • profile image

      Lexi C. 2 years ago

      Getting a concussion 2 weeks ago and now feeling the smptyoms, this helped a ton. Thank you!

    • RhondaAlbom profile image
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      Rhonda Albom 3 years ago from New Zealand

      @Rochpauli: I hope she can find something these lists that her doctor will approve. For us it was a slow recovery, but a full one.

    • profile image

      Rochpauli 3 years ago

      Thank you for creating this page about concussions. My 14 year old daughter was playing in the snow on a surprise snow-day from school and bumped her head several times that day and while sledding the next day. The headache and nausea did not show up until the evening of the 3rd day and even then no link was made to a concussion as the jarring of her brain seemed minor and we simply thought she was getting the flu or some other ailment. When the confusion, emotional outburst and difficulty thinking and doing homework hit on the 5th day we immediately headed for a medical evaluation and have been fighting boredom ever since, sometimes overdoing activities that seemed fine, until a few hours later when symptoms ramped up with a vengeance. So we are finding it is best to do less than we think we are capable of and be patient. Paul and Eva in Vermont.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image
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      Rhonda Albom 3 years ago from New Zealand

      @PaigSr: It's a tough job for all of you. I hope you are ok now.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image
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      Rhonda Albom 3 years ago from New Zealand

      @Lynn Klobuchar: Injuries are scary and happen far too quickly.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image
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      Rhonda Albom 3 years ago from New Zealand

      @boneworld: I think all parents worry about things accidents. Concussions can happen to anyone, even the least wild.

    • profile image

      lakesidelegal 3 years ago

      Thank you for posting this list. My 10 year old daughter has academic and physical restrictions for the next several weeks after a soccer concussion. She is going to miss out on a number of really fun activities she had planned with friends and through school, which is so disappointing. We were working on our own list, and although we had several, it was great to have some new ideas. It was also nice for her to see that she's not the only one in this situation. Thank you!

    • Lynn Klobuchar profile image

      Lynn Klobuchar 3 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

      My boys play hockey (ice hockey) and the concern about concussions is always there. Thank you for sharing your story and so many practical ideas. Cross my fingers and my toes -- we have not yet had a confirmed concussion. They play baseball, too. Love the active life, but injuries are scary. Best to your daughter.

    • boneworld profile image

      Jackson Thom 3 years ago from West of Left South Lucky

      This is one of my fears for my little guy. He's still small, but he's wild, so I'm pretty scared we'll be dealing with concussions when he gets to be a teen. Hopefully, I remember this list if anything ever happens.

    • PaigSr profile image

      PaigSr 3 years ago from State of Confussion

      Poll follow up. I was the one that had the concussion. And the parents were the ones that had to wait patiently.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image
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      Rhonda Albom 3 years ago from New Zealand

      @Buckee06: Hi Buckee06 - Remember I have no medical background, I am just a mom sharing her story. In my daughter's case, once she had recovered she was told that another blow to the head in the first year would be catastrophic. This was done by a physician specializing in sports medicine, who we saw prior to and after the neurologist. My daughter was a member of the National Youth Team and was being watched for this upcoming Olympics. Sometimes life just changes. There are many articles out there these days about the long term effects of multiple concussions. I do understand your worry and concern. I have been there.

    • profile image

      Buckee06 3 years ago

      My daughter is 17 and An avid snowboarder. It his her life and passion. She started competing a few years ago and has suffered her 3rd concussion tonight from it. She is determined to board again but I am very scared and worried for her. She is very strong willed and defiant. She doesn't understand the long term affects. She won some competitions last year and loves seeing her progression. She also had a concussion previously from baseball. Tonight's she lost her memory and has had that happened once before. Is there a test I can ask the doctors to have done as she is only 17?

    • RhondaAlbom profile image
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      Rhonda Albom 3 years ago from New Zealand

      @CynthiaGraham1: Cyndi, I need to remind you that I am NOT a medical professional, rather a mom sharing her story. We saw slow gradual improvement in my daughter as we followed the advice from her medical team. In her case, she was only allowed 30 minutes of any screen time per day to allow her brain to rest. If we didn't feel confident in her medical team, or see gradual improvement, we probably would have gotten another opinion.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image
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      Rhonda Albom 3 years ago from New Zealand

      @parentofbyoys: Currently, she is not competing, and when she snowboards it is just for fun.

    • profile image

      CynthiaGraham1 3 years ago

      My question is, in your opinion, how much texting is reasonable each day? its been 2 weeks since my 14 year old son pulled himself out of his hockey game due to concussion symptoms. About 10 days prior to that game, he suffered a minor concussion in gym at school. for the 10 days, he continued to go to school, play volleyball and hockey while suffering fom headaches and concentration issues in math; we didn't know. Then, during that game, he either suffered another indirect blow and/or exacerbated the original concussion. Due to the severe headache, etc., he fortunately pulled himself out of the game. The doctor at the children's hospital confirmed a moderate-severe concussion. The first week he did nothing for 3 days. But this past week, he tried a few classes at school as well as school work at home, both of which brought on headaches. This past week as well we mistakingly allowed video games and texting because we were originally advised that he could do activities that don't bring on headaches. He saw his sports doctor again yesterday and we learned he has regressed so no more video games, no school and she suggested 15 min of texting each hour. My question is, is that too much?

      Thank you for this helpful website,

      Cyndi

    • profile image

      parentofbyoys 3 years ago

      Did your daughter continue snowboarding? I have two sons that snowboard competitively, and one recently got a concussion at school. We've decided to end competition because, frankly, it is a sport where concussions will be frequent (unfortunately...it is a wonderful sport in so many ways).

    • RhondaAlbom profile image
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      Rhonda Albom 3 years ago from New Zealand

      @anonymous: It is, especially when they stare blankly at you and can't answer simple questions.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      It must be so scary for a parent to see their child go through a concussion!

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 3 years ago

      Important article on an important topic.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image
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      Rhonda Albom 3 years ago from New Zealand

      @anonymous: I hope his first day back at school goes well.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      @RhondaAlbom: Yest wed evening he declared that he had enough. Dr said he will cranky/depressed. he can't wait to go to school tom. That's a positive!

    • RhondaAlbom profile image
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      Rhonda Albom 3 years ago from New Zealand

      @anonymous: Just following up to see how your 12 year old is doing.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image
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      Rhonda Albom 3 years ago from New Zealand

      @anonymous: I would imagine it to be worse for an active 17 year old, especially in this day of constant social media.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image
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      Rhonda Albom 3 years ago from New Zealand

      @Aunt-Mollie: Yes, we are living proof of that, although in our case the missed the first one.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image
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      Rhonda Albom 3 years ago from New Zealand

      @Ruthi: That is exactly why we created this list.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      My 17 yr old son received a concussion Friday at his football game. we went to the drs yest and my son was quite surprised to hear that he needs to be shut down for 3 days. I decided to think quickly and we went to the dollar store and he picked out a coloring book and scratch pad. We went to bed early and I'm glad he's still sleeping. activity today will be cooking, coloring, manicure & massage. He can go back to school fri half day. Thank you for your lists of things to do. It's not easy at any age. Blessings, patience & peace, to all families in our situation.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      Thank you. Your page on concussions and things to do was very helpful

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      Thank you for this page. My 12 year old suffered her second concussion on Sunday in a soccer game. Her first was at age 9. I would describe her demeanor right now as a child that has a really high fever but without body aches and the actual fever. Today is the first day she hasn't felt dizzy but she still has a bad headache and extreme light sensitivity. The suggestions here will be great for us. As this is her 2nd concussion we plan to go very slowly with her recovery process and I know boredom will be an issue. I am so grateful this didn't happen during school as that would compound the issue but I do hate that so much of her summer is now on house arrest.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: 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!

    • profile image

      Aunt-Mollie 4 years ago

      It's encouraging to know that your child had a complete recovery. So many parents don't realize how serious a concussion can be and fail to have a child seen by a doctor. That's a pitiful mistake!

    • profile image

      Ruthi 4 years ago

      I can not imagine how difficult it must have been to keep your active daughter from being bored by the inactivity while recovering from the concussion. Happy to hear she has reached full concussion recovery!

    • RhondaAlbom profile image
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      Rhonda Albom 4 years ago from New Zealand

      @anonymous: I love the idea of the bath crayons. Thanks for sharing it and I hope your son's recovery goes smoothly.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image
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      Rhonda Albom 4 years ago from New Zealand

      @iSophie: Sorry about your concussion. Glad these tips were helpful.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image
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      Rhonda Albom 4 years ago from New Zealand

      @anonymous: Thanks Jim

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      This is an amazing site, thanks so much for the information! This is my 11 year old son's first day off from school and second day of concussion and he is going crazy without electronics or books. We just did the bath and I found a bunch of old bath crayons, colored bath tablets, and soap shaving foam so that made it a bit more amusing. He lasted a whole 20 minutes! We are off to buy paint & model magic, and later play some Legos, origami, and do some baking. I am just going to pretend I have a preschooler again and try to enjoy getting my baby back. Otherwise, we will all go insane! :)

    • iSophie profile image

      iSophie 4 years ago

      This is great I had a concussion, and I wrote a Squidoo about it too!! Maybe you could check it out!! These are great tips, and were totally true, because I used some of these tricks!!!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      great info

    • RhondaAlbom profile image
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      Rhonda Albom 4 years ago from New Zealand

      @anonymous: Hi this is Melissa. Thank you!

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