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How to Help a Friend with a Concussion

Brain Injury Blog By Ann Engelland, MD

January 21, 2013

How to Help a Friend with a Concussion 

Concussion is a risk in contact sports.

Your buddy or teammate or family member has sustained a concussion.  Maybe you don’t believe it. Maybe she doesn’t believe it.  Listen up: BELIEVE IT.  There is no way to prove that someone has had a concussion.  The only way for her to recover quickly and fully is to Rest.  You can review Chapter Two: The Four Rs and the Four Ds of my book It’s All in Your Head: Everyone’s Guide to Managing Concussions for a quick overview of the issues.  But basically, here is what you need to do as a friend: 

1.  Be quiet. Keep your voice down.

2.  Advocate for her: Let friends know that she cannot go to the game, the prom, the mall, the beach, the party, or work.

3.  Educate others about concussions.  Concussions are common. One of their friends could be next. Everyone needs to learn and know the signs, symptoms, and treatment of concussions.

4.  Bring a playlist of quiet music.  Suggest good, calm genres to listen to.

5.  Read out loud (quietly) to her if it doesn’t bother her.

6.  Bring her a delicious salad to feed her brain.

7.  If she is ready to do homework, see how you can help.

8.  If she is a work colleague, let the boss and others know how she is doing. Advocate and educate at the workplace too. Have them download the book to learn more.

9.  If she is bored, figure out a way to encourage her to stay the course.

10.  When she returns to activities, have her back.  If she doesn’t look or act right, let her know. Everyone wants to deny symptoms. Staying home bored is not fun. But sometimes it’s the best course of action.

11.  Advocate for her even if she doesn’t always do so for herself.

About the Author

Ann Engelland is a pediatrician with over thirty years experience caring for children, teens, and young adults.  Her specialty training and board certification is in adolescent medicine. After many years  in private practice in Westchester County, New York, she now works in the public schools as the physician for two different districts and in the Barnard College student health service in New York City. She has directed the development and implementation of the concussion management policy for all three schools.