Return to Play After a Concussion

Does my child need clearance to return to play?

Return to Play: Kids ImageYes. Students must be evaluated and cleared —  in writing — to return to play by an appropriate medical professional, as determined by your school district.

Regardless of your state’s law, you do not want your child to be re-injured while he is recovering from a concussion. Re-injury can make a concussion worse and cause long-term disability.

When can my child return to physical activity (contact sports and play)?

It will depend on your child. You can promote recovery and prevent ongoing symptoms by following a “return to play” plan like the one below. Your doctor will customize this plan based on your child’s needs, and your child will move through the plan at his own pace.

Video FAQs about returning to play after a concussion

Return to play plan

Step 1

Initially, your child may participate in light aerobic activity as tolerated. This could include light walking. This does not include any type of sports training.

Step 2

Once your child is back in school with minimal symptoms, your child can restart non-contact light aerobic exercises, including brisk walking, stationary cycling, etc. These activities should not make symptoms worse.

Step 3

Once your child is symptom-free in a full day of school and can tolerate light aerobic activity, she can re-start sport-specific training. This would include exercises such as moderate jogging/running, moderate-intensity stationary bike, throwing a baseball and kicking a soccer ball. No head impact activities.

Step 4

Once your child is able to tolerate sport-specific exercise, he may advance to noncontact training drills and heavy noncontact physical exertion, including sprinting/running, high-intensity stationary biking, his regular weightlifting routine and noncontact sport-specific drills.

Step 5

At this point, ask your child’s doctor if your child is ready to advance to full contact play.

If you have questions about your child’s injury, please contact your child's primary care physician. CHOP Primary Care physicians are located in more than 30 communities across Southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Call 911 if your child has any of the following symptoms:

  • Seizures (twitching or jerking movement of parts of the body; may look stiff)
  • Weakness or tingling in the arms or legs
  • Cannot recognize people or places
  • Confused, restless or agitated
  • Impaired consciousness
  • Difficult to arouse or unable to awaken
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Bloody or clear fluid from the nose or ears


Reviewed on September 14, 2015