Concussion: Persistent

Key Points:

  • As a whole, it takes up to 30% of teens longer than a month to recover and symptoms to resolve.
  • Everyone’s recovery journey is unique - and we cannot predict how long it will take you to be symptom free.
  • Be patient, stay positive.
  • Involve your parents and get expert help to guide you.
  • Our expectation is that you will recover and return to the things you love.

What if Symptoms Don’t Go Away

  • We cannot predict how long it takes each person to recover after a concussion
  • Experts have defined a ‘persistent concussion’ as symptoms lasting longer than one month.
  • We understand that teens take more time than adults do to recover from a concussion.
  • Only about 30% of teens will have symptoms that last longer than 1 month.

Why might concussion symptoms take longer to get better?

There are many reasons why symptoms may take longer to go away. Experts are still sorting out which ones may be most relevant to concussion recovery. If any of the following factors applied to you before your concussion, it is likely you may take longer to recover:

  • A headache or migraine condition

  • A learning disability

  • Attention challenges

  • Mental health challenges

  • Having multiple concussion(s) and/or having a previous concussion fairly recently

Even if it takes longer, you are still expected to feel better, return to school, sports, and activities.

    What to do next? (If Symptoms Have Not Gone Away)

    We know that some adolescents suffer from persistent symptoms long after their acute concussion.

    If so, here are some steps to follow:

    1. Keep in mind – It is very common to have some ‘good days’ and some ‘bad days’.
    2. Stay patient and positive.
    3. Use this self-management guide: Follow the tips and strategies provided to address your symptoms.
    4. Get professional help early. ‘Waiting it out’ usually does not work if you still have symptoms one month after a concussion.

    Early treatment is more successful and gets you back to life faster.

    Persistent concussion symptoms are treatable.


    Who should you see if your concussion is taking longer?

    Go back and see your doctor to work out where you can get the best support for your recovery. Your doctor may even refer you to a specialized clinic.

    Remember a CT scan is usually not needed, as it can’t show us if you’ve had a concussion.

    At the GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, the Adolescent Complex Concussion Clinic is a multi-disciplinary team specializing in concussion recovery in adolescents. If you would like to be referred you can share this referral form [PDF] with your family doctor. Please note only referrals that meet the referral criteria will be accepted.

    Managing Symptoms Can Help Recovery

    Over time, you may have challenges with:

    • Sleep
    • Stress
    • Mood changes
    • Headaches
    • Pain, such as a neck or a back ache

    These symptoms can become their own diagnosis even though your brain has healed from the concussion.

    Your doctor and healthcare team can help you identify if these persistent symptoms require ongoing treatment by different specialists so that you can go to school, see your friends and do the stuff that you want to do.

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