Concussion Care Plans and their role in recovery

Karla Fleming, MS, SLP-CCC
Project BrainSafe Executive Committee Member
Outpatient Rehabilitation | CentraCare Health Plaza

concussion_care_planPreviously, we talked about concussion symptoms and the importance of proper identification and care when experiencing a prolonged recovery. Today we’ll discuss an important component of the recovery process — the Concussion Care Plan.

Minnesota’ s Concussion Law states when a youth athlete is removed from an activity due to a suspected concussion, they can’t resume the activity until they no longer show symptoms and a trained provider has given consent to participate again. A Concussion Care Plan provides coaches, parents and teachers a guide to assist in the recovery process providing adequate brain rest and healing.

A couple of things to be aware of regarding Concussion Care Plans:

  • A Concussion Care Plan involves different levels for returning to school and activity. (See Concussion Care Plan sidebar) Using this model, it is important a student complete all Return to Learn steps and proper testing before returning to a sport or activity.
  • A student may need help with some temporary academic accommodations to assist them during recovery, including shortened assignments, rest breaks during the day and avoiding noisy places.
  • It is important to communicate frequently with the school staff or teachers regarding the student’s symptoms, needs and recovery process.
  • Every individual is different and the health care provider will help determine the student’s appropriate level on the Concussion Care Plan and how to proceed. The Concussion Care Plan also encourages contact and follow-up with a health care provider during the important recovery time.

A concussion is a mild brain injury. Suffering another injury before allowing the brain to heal can have life-changing consequences. Before resuming physical activity, anyone who suffers from a concussion should slowly resume everyday mental activities, such as school or work. It also may be necessary to take time to rest, avoid and/or limit driving, screen time and loud or bright places.

Concussion Care Plan

Return to Learn:
Step 1: Complete cognitive and physical rest
Step 2: Light mental activity
Step 3: Part-time school with maximum accommodations
Step 4: Full-time school with moderate accommodations
Step 5: Full-time school with minimal accommodations and academic supports
Step 6: Full-time school with limited to no accommodations

Return to Learn MUST be completed prior to starting Return to Play

Return to Play:
Step 1: Physical rest
Step 2: Light aerobic activity
Step 3: Sports specific exercise
Step 4: Non-contact drills
Step 5: Full practice – no restrictions
Step 6: Return to play – no restrictions

Learn More About Project Brainsafe

Project-BrainSafeProject BrainSafe is a community-wide collaborative committed to improving the standard of care for concussions. Project BrainSafe’s goal is to improve the recognition, diagnosis and management of concussions for people of all ages living in Central Minnesota.

Find out more at