It is important that the athlete has successfully returned to school or work before fully returning to sports or other physical activity. Returning to physical activity too early may result in more severe or potentially long-term problems. If the athlete is a student, a primary focus on return to school has been shown to lead to a quicker return to sport. If the athlete is not a student, they should have successfully returned to cognitive aspects of their daily life/work before physical activities.
The Return to Sport tool will help guide an athlete to return to sport and physical activity, and can be used to communicate their progress to coaches and physical education teachers. The goal of working through the Return to Sport stages is to increase physical activity gradually without exacerbating current symptoms or triggering new symptoms.
Once in Stage 2, the athlete must be free from new or worsening symptoms for at least 24 hours before advancing to the next stage. If at any time symptoms worsen, the athlete must go back to the previous stage until symptoms have returned to their previous state for 24 hours.
The Return to Sport stages typically take 7 to 10 days for adults to complete and longer for children and youth.
Medical clearance is required before the athlete moves to full-contact practice (Stage 5). By this time, they should either be symptom-free or have returned to pre-concussion levels for any symptoms still experienced (e.g., headaches). This can include getting a medical assessment and the required written medical clearance from a medical professional to participate in physical activity.
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