Mild Traumatic Brain Injury/Concussion: your guide to recovery

Getting back to work or school after concussion

  • After concussion, take a day or two off work or school to rest and recover.
  • Your symptoms might get in the way of doing your job at work or learning things at school. It is important to get ready for work or school by taking good care of yourself and managing symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, tiredness and mood problems.
  • Keep a routine. Try to get up at your normal time, get dressed and gradually start to do more.
  • As you start to feel better, do some school or work activities (like reading or computer work) for short periods of time (for example, 15 minutes a few times a day). Gradually increase the intensity, time and amount of activity, as long as it does not bring on or worsen any symptoms.
  • You are ready to go back to work or school when you can concentrate and do things for longer periods of time without making your symptoms worse.
  • Returning to work or school will depend on how you are feeling and the type of job that you do. For example, if you have to climb ladders at work and still get dizzy, then you may need to do your job in a different way.
  • Most people can go back to work or school within 1-2 weeks after concussion. Some people will take a bit longer. Recovery is different for everyone. Talk to your doctor or health-care provider if your symptoms are not improving after a few weeks.

What can I do?

Take it slow

  • Going to back to work and school must be done gradually. At first, cut back on work and school duties. Start with half-days. Go back on a part time basis for a few days.

  • Slowly increase your workload and your hours as tolerated. If symptoms come back or get worse, reduce or stop activity for a while.

Remember to conserve your energy and use the four Ps. Learn more about energy conservation »

Take extra breaks

  • Pace yourself and take extra breaks. Break before you feel tired. Remember that tiredness can affect your concentration and make you feel stressed and more irritable.

  • If you start to feel symptoms at work or school, take a break in a quiet area until symptoms improve. Go back to your work or class when your symptoms improve.

  • Use an alarm to remind you to rest.

Change your work or school activities

  • It is possible that you may not be able to do things or think as quickly as you did before, or that you forget things. Take extra time to complete your work. Use strategies to help you concentrate and remember. See tips on changes in thinking, memory and concentration »

  • Poor posture, bright lights and computer screens can make symptoms worse. Make sure your computer and workstation is set up properly. Ask your employer about having an ergonomic assessment of your work station.

  • Try to keep stress levels low as stress may worsen symptoms. More information about mood changes »

Ask for help

  • Talk to your employer about going back to work. You, your doctor and your employer can work together to make a plan to help you work safely without making your symptoms worse or bringing on new symptoms.

  • Make sure you tell your employer and doctor if you are having problems at work. They will not be able to help you if you do not tell them how you are feeling.

  • If you are a university or college student, find out about your school's services for students with concussion. You might be able to get accommodations and support at school until you feel better. Possible accommodations might include: extra time for tests and assignments, a quiet place to write exams and/or note taking assistance. Talk to your doctor or health-care provider to find out what accommodations are best for your situation.

  • Find out if you have an Employee Assistance (EAP) program at work. An EAP can provide counselling services and other resources to support you or your family with issues that may be affecting your health, work or life

If you are not feeling better and have been off work or school for a few weeks or months, talk to your doctor or health-care provider. Your doctor may refer you to other health-care providers to help manage your symptoms and get back to your normal activities.