Parents are huge pieces in the concussion rehab process for young athletes.
Concussions can be difficult on Mom or Dad because there are no outward bruises, bumps, cuts or scrapes to wrap or bandage. Instead, parents are left trying to help their child manage what can sometimes be vague, confusing, and often frustrating symptoms.
The key for parents in the rehab process is to support their child, and find the happy balance of encouraging their steady progress through their rehabilitation program, and not pushing too hard.
Make a schedule…and stick to it – Following a concussion your child is going to need to alter their daily schedule to allow for adequate periods of activity and rest breaks to ensure they are not overdoing it. Kids are not known for their ability to manage time, so it is important for parents to step in and help regulate their day. Regulating bed times, wake times, activity and breaks throughout the day is one of the most important facets of the rehabilitation process.
Be firm but fair. Don’t take away all electronics, books, social interactions and activity, or your child will be left without anything! With some advisement from your healthcare team, there is some leeway to help your child stay connected to important things like friends, teammates and hobbies.
Keep calm, even if they don’t: Altered mood, anxiety, even depression are common with concussion. You have a young athlete who can’t compete, can’t spend the same time with teammates and friends, and who may begin to feel very isolated, bored, and frustrated. Lashing out, being emotional, and feeling down can come with the territory. As hard as it can be to reason with an emotional child or teen, continue to drive home the point that concussion recovery is a process and things will get better. Your encouragement can go a long way in calming some of the anxieties that come with this injury.
Don’t put pressure or timelines on recovery: Depending on the level that your child plays at, there can be a lot of money and time dedicated to his/her sport. While it can be difficult to see your child on the sidelines or away from the game, putting added pressure on them, or using upcoming competitions as recovery goals or timelines can be both discouraging and cause anxiety. Let your child recovery according to a timeline that makes them comfortable.
These are just a few ways how you can help support your child through the rehabilitation process. Next, we will look at the role of the coach in assisting recovery.