Take 15-20 Minutes to Guide Concussion Recovery

When discussing concussion recovery I find that “re-starting activity in 15-20 minutes blocks” is a solid starting point.

Looking to return to homework or other school-based activities?

Start with 15-20 minute blocks.

How much can I spend on my phone?

Start with 15-20 minute blocks.

We have learned that absolute rest and removal from usual duties might be counter-productive to recovery.

Indeed the counter-concern over returning with too much activity, too quickly, or too soon is also valid.

Enter the 15-20 minute block recommendation.

When to start concussion recovery?

Usually within a few days after a concussion.

I will counsel patients to find a “good part” of the day where headaches or other symptoms are at a lower point

They should select one activity to start in a quiet room without other stimulation (loud music, bright outdoor light, texts, etc).

While most would immediately select their phone, the usual first choice is light reading from a book or magazine rather than a screen.

Set a timer for 15-20 minutes, and once that period passes, stop all activity and take a break.

If successful, try another 15-20 minute block of similar activity again later in the day.

If that goes well, can increase to 20-30 minute blocks the next day.

Don’t advise going past the “max” time recommendation.

Better to finish “early” without symptoms than to muscle forward, and suffer setbacks.

Once able to do at least 2 blocks of activity per day, can add a block of more “fun”.

This might include cell phone, texting, appropriate internet surfing, music, or even some light video games.

How about returning to school?

Completing 20-30 minute blocks of work 2-3 times a day is a minimum criteria for a partial (half-day) return to the classroom.


Six Wise Steps to Guide Return-to-Learn After Concussion


What if I can’t do 15 minutes without symptoms?

If unable to get through that initial 15-20 minute block of time due to symptoms showing up, don’t despair.

Take the rest of that day off, and try the next day.

Maximize chances for success by ensuring a quiet distraction-free environment, good food and fluid intake, and some restorative sleep.

If a few days of attempting the 15-20 minute activity blocks lead to more failure, then do not hesitate to contact your medical provider for more specific tips and further recommendations.

VIDEO: Return to Play Guidelines in Concussion Recovery

This advice is intended for general recommendations for concussion recovery. It is not intended for diagnosis or specific treatment of a concussion. It should not replace the advice of your medical professional. Any individual suspected of having a concussion must be seen and evaluated by a qualified medical professional. 

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