Concussion Recovery: Coaches, Teachers, and Parents Need to Be on the Same Team

Concussion Recovery:  Coaches, Teachers, and Parents Need to Be on the Same Team

  How we can relieve the stress and anxiety of our student athletes

In many locales including our own, academic competition is fierce, so when prescribing a brief time of what I would term “structured cognitive rest”, anxiety levels can be high. It’s necessary to advise a student athlete to limit not only physical activity but also cognitive activity such as reading, reasoning, deep concentration – you know, studying and homework –but that advice is not generally well-received, and unfortunately sometimes falls on deaf ears.

Extensive research has been conducted measuring the importance of cognitive rest, especially during the first three to five days of recovery, and the results are clear. Moderate to total structured cognitive rest results in a quicker recovery and easing of post-concussion symptoms.

“Our research now provides clinicians with solid evidence to show athletes, parents, schools and teams that rest really helps and should not be underestimated, no matter how long the time from injury. I hope it helps us debunk the mistaken philosophy that it is better to push through the pain, than to take the time to heal.”

Rosemarie Scolaro Moser, PhD, concussion expert neuropsychologist, Sports Concussion Center of New Jersey  

    Understanding Prolonged Recovery

Most concussions last 10 – 14 days, meaning it generally takes that long for the brain injury itself to heal.  There are known risk factors for prolonged recovery including a history of ADD/ADHD, depression and anxiety, migraine headaches or treatment for headaches, learning disabilities, prior concussion/family history of concussion, female gender, and younger age. An important tool in assessing the level of recovery from a concussion and the safe return to learning is a Graded Symptom Scale Checklist, as found in the software Rapid Med uses, C3 Logix, and others such as ImPACT. A maintained high score post-injury is clearly an indication of prolonged recovery. It’s important that our local student athletes, parents, athletic trainers and particularly educators be cognizant of the indicators of prolonged recovery and be understanding with the student athlete’s therapeutic return to normality. However, signs of persistent concussion are not always evident by interview and interaction alone.

“I’m fine. Really! I feel great!”

A recent study, the first of its kind, demonstrates that athletes significantly underreport post-concussive symptoms to their athletic trainers and coaches but are more forthcoming and honest in a confidential setting. The anxiety of missing out and getting behind when it comes to sports and academics is very real for student athletes.

In addition to understanding the indicators of prolonged recovery, being educated about the risks and signs of underreporting post-concussive symptoms is important to ensure our local student athletes keep their health a top priority. If the parents, coaches, trainers, and educators demonstrate a keen interest in health and safety above play, the athletes may feel less compelled to return to their sport sooner than they should. Together we can be the team that ensures a full recovery for our student athletes without stress and anxiety.

Dr. John Gomez is the general medical/concussion team physician at Flower Mound High School and a clinician who has earned the Credentialed ImPACT Consultant title.

Sources include: “Study First to Prove Benefit of Cognitive and Physical Rest in Concussion Recovery” by Lindsey Barton Straus, JD – momsTEAM ; “The underreporting of self-reported symptoms following sports-related concussion” by Meier TB, et al.  J Sci Med Sport (2014),


Dr. Gomez
Dr. John Gomez was born in Venezuela but spent most of his childhood in Texas, his father a Spaniard and mother American. After working a few years as a full time emergency physician in a few hospitals, Dr. Gomez noted and came to dislike the inefficiencies and near total lack of personalization required to practice the best medicine. He developed a perspective that medical care, even when an emergency, should be patient centered and streamlined and it was with this vision that he began Rapid-Med. Dr. Gomez maintains a special interest in ultrasound and sports medicine with emphasis on concussion management. He currently serves on the L.I.S.D. Concussion Oversight Team (COT) as physician advisor and enjoys his close relationship with the local athletic trainers and Flower Mound High School.
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