Whether your child plays soccer or football, does cheerleading, or runs track, the potential for a concussion is out there all season long. If your child does suffer from a concussion you'll need to know how to care for her, and also how to answer her inevitable question ... "When can I get back in the game?"

The bottom line is that kids will need several months to recover and get back to their sport after a concussion. But there are ways that you can help your child to maximize his recovery and minimize his time off the field.

According to a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics, kids need at least three to five days of complete mental rest in order to recover from a concussion. And those kids who got that kind of mental downtime recovered that much faster from their injury.

For the study, researchers looked at 335 children and young adults ages 8 to 23 who suffered from concussions. They found that kids who immediately re-engaged in thinking-intensive activities — such as doing homework, playing video games, reading or texting — took the longest to fully recover from their symptoms, with an average of about 100 days. Whereas the kids who took a mental break immediately after their injury recovered within 20 to 50 days.

So the best way to help kids recover — and minimize their time on the bench — is to help them keep their minds in low-gear for the first few days after a concussion. That means no texting, no reading, no schoolwork, and no thinking. If they can manage that for a couple of days, the chances are they will be back in the field in a few weeks rather than a few months.

Researchers recommend that parents reintroduce "thinking" activities slowly after the mental break and pull back if concussion symptoms — headache, fatigue, or confusion — start to reappear.

Once kids are free of all concussion symptoms, are able to handle mental activities again, AND they have received an all-clear from their doctor, they need to practice a slow and steady return to sports. And how long that takes is directly related to how well they manage their post-concussion care.

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