Thinking Skills

Key Points:

  • It is very common to find it harder to concentrate, learn, and study after a concussion.
  • A good night’s sleep, exercising, and managing your stress provides a good foundation for thinking skills.

Cognition (Thinking Skills)

Your brain controls your thinking skills like paying attention/concentrating, memory (learning new information), and planning/organizing/problem solving.

Cognition after a Concussion

After a concussion you may find it harder to pay attention and learn in class, study, keep up with your friends when they talk at the same time, and play your video games due to feeling more distractible.

Some teens describe feeling a ‘fogginess’ and that they are slower when reading, learning new information or playing their video games.

This is all temporary. Your intellectual ability does not change after a concussion.

Also, it is normal to not remember stuff from time to time especially if you feel stressed, had a bad sleep, or if your headache is bothering you.

What can you do?

There are a lot of things you can do to help with your thinking skills. They include getting a good sleep, eating healthy, staying hydrated, keeping your stress down, and being physically active.

Cardiovascular exercise (where you increase your heart rate) can boost your memory and thinking skills indirectly by improving mood and sleep, and by reducing your stress and anxiety. Scientists have also found that aerobic exercise (stretching and strength training) can also increase the production of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BNDF) made by the brain which can help with attention, memory, stress and mood.

Attention Strategies

Here are a few strategies for making it easier to pay attention and concentrate.

  • Try exercising (fast paced walk, bike ride, jog or even running up and down stairs) before you study. Even 5 to 10 minutes can help!
  • Do one thing at a time.
  • Break a task (e.g. homework or cleaning your room) into smaller steps so that it’s more manageable and to prevent overloading your brain
  • Choose a quiet place without distractions when doing homework or an activity that requires a lot of concentration.
  • Take breaks and give yourself extra time to complete a task.
  • Reading out loud can help you to concentrate and help information to sink in.
Memory Strategies
  • Keep your important stuff (e.g phone, wallet, keys, earbuds etc.) in the same place at home so you can keep track of them.
  • Use reminder alarms on your phone
  • Use your school agenda if you prefer to have reminders on paper. Some teens like having a big calendar or white board on their bedroom wall so they can see what their month looks like (eg. due dates for school projects).
  • Let your friends know that it can be hard to pay attention and remember stuff while you’re recovering from concussion.
  • Plan to do tasks that require more energy at times in the day when you feel more rested.
  • Pace yourself. See Pacing for more information.

Add to My Recovery Plan 📒

Here are some common strategies that many teenagers find helpful. You can chose the one that you would like to add to your personalized Recovery Plan.

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