Returning to training after concussion

injury

#1

A few weeks ago I had a bit of an argument with a tractor resulting in a trip to hospital and a broken helmet. The resulting concussion has floored me for a few weeks but I’m starting to feel like riding again and looking towards when I start my winter training schedule (Low volume SS Base I).

I’m being pretty cautious with this - I’m starting with some easy, short rides that are more aimed at mental health than fitness. I won’t even think about intensity until I feel ready for it.

I’m interested to hear people’s experiences of returning to training after a concussion. What did you do that you are happy with and do you have any regrets about your approach?


#2

In August of 2016, I went down hard with my head taking the brunt of the fall. I lost about 8 hours of memory from that night with an exceptionally gnarly concussion. Totally demolished my helmet, which I’m told saved my life.

That was before I start training of any kind (I just “rode bikes”), but I was off the bike completely with killer headaches for about three weeks or so. It was hard to read, watch TV, or anything else that required focus for at least the first two weeks. For at least a year post-concussion, I had more frequent headaches that were far more intense than ever before, but that slowly subsided starting at around 12 months, with what I’d call a “full recovery” at around 18 months or so.

But I can absolutely tell you that the mental hurdle was the hardest part to get over. I lost nearly all of my confidence on the bike after that crash. While I was physically able to ride again at a similar level as before after just a few weeks, I was not the same rider. I was very reserved with speed and cornering, and it took me a while to regain my confidence. I’m honestly probably a totally different rider overall now as a result—likely a much safer one.


#3

Oh wow. 8 Hours of memory loss sounds savage.

Good to hear you’re safer rider though. Being safe is good!


#4

I’m not sure discussing this on an internet forum is a great idea, at the end of the day it’s a brain injury and should be discussed with a specialist.


#5

Oh man, I’m glad to hear you’re recovering well. An accident with a tractor sounds terrible!

Simple answer: work with a head injury specialist to define how you will return to riding and training. Every head injury is unique, so referring to them as “concussions” is a bit too general – it’d be like referring to broken limbs or torn ligaments as “musculoskeletal injuries”.

If you don’t have access to such a Doctor, err heavily on the side of caution and take your time. The sport isn’t going anywhere, so take more time than you think you need.


#6

As @Jonathan says, follow medical advice and be very cautious. It can take what feels like a surprisingly long time for things to fully recover. I’ve made the mistake of returning to hard exercise too early after a major concussion, and the increase in blood pressure quite literally almost killed me. I was frustrated at being sidelined so convinced myself I was ok when I still wasn’t quite ready.
Good luck with the recovery


#7

Thanks for the replies and concern all!

I should clarify, I’m not looking for medical advice - just some stories to relate to.

I’m currently enjoying the excuse to take frequent naps :slight_smile:


#8

Last year I was hit by a car and suffered a concussion even though my head didn’t hit anything – there was an initial for/backward traditional whiplash motion followed by a side-to-side whiplash. Two months off work with almost no physical activity. It was about 5 months before I did any serious riding (Festive 500) and a year+ on I still have minor post-concussion symptoms.

Concussions are very tricky because each one is different. There are some general “return to play” protocols out there but definitely seek out a concussion specialist and treatment. Like @Jonathan, take more time than you think you should. I felt ready to go back to work and the doc told me take another two weeks off – I argued with him but took the time begrudgingly. During that time it was like someone reached inside my head and plugged my brain back in – day and night. Went back to the doc and first thing he said was, “Welcome back to the land of the living!”.

Take it slow and let your brain heal. You’ll have plenty of time to go fast after.


#9

Just got my helmet back from kask along with the crash replacement. Anyone want to play spot the difference?


#10

I have some experience with concussions, but not my own, my wife’s. She has suffered 2 of them due to motor vehicle accidents but it kept her from sport (running) both times. I did a video on our trials and tribulations on her recovery from each. Keep in mind I am not a doctor but I detail who you should and should not see (at least in our case). In a nut shell, I feel one should get some impact testing done so they can track your recovery and also see a concussions specialist so they may provide the correct therapies (vestibular, physical, etc…) for your condition and also put a plan together to “return to sport”. My wife has come a long way in 3 months since this last accident… much faster than 2 years seeking the wrong treatment!

Also, recovery from a TBI isn’t something you need to do alone. Spouse and family are important!

Anyway, here is a link to my video if anyone is interested in listening to me ramble for 22mins.


#11

Good read on how concussions are not “minor”.