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If my son feels fine after suffering a concussion, can he still play?

Although how one feels is an important part of recovery, it alone should not be the criteria to allow your son to return. This is actually one of the focus points regarding concussion education. There are many factors relating to this. First of all if you go solely by an adolescent’s answer, it may not be completely truthful. He wants to play, his teammates want him to play, and you as his parent may want him to play. So will he say he feels fine when he really isn’t? Communicating with a teenager can be hard enough. It is even more difficult when health is an issue. Return to play should be determined by subjective and objective measures. First your son needs to feel fine without a headache. Then he needs a follow-up examination by a physician. A sports medicine trained physician will administer a battery of tests to evaluate recovery. These tests include cognitive thinking, reaction, and balance. Afterwards a return to play exercise program will be set up starting with light exercise and progressing in intensity. In team sports this is done in conjunction with the team’s athletic trainer. An athlete needs to pass these tests before being cleared for contact or high risk activity.

This answer provided for NATA by Tony Sutton, ATC.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.