Domain 12: Return-to-school and Work



The child/adolescent should return to their school environment as soon as they are able to tolerate engaging in cognitive activities, even if they are still experiencing symptoms. Recommend a stepwise return-to-school plan. Include temporary accommodations based on symptoms and recommendations from the healthcare professional. Monitor and modify the return-to-school plan based on ongoing assessment of symptoms.
Level of Evidence:   

This involves collaboration and communication among healthcare professionals, school-based professionals, the child/adolescent, and/or parents/caregivers.

Summary of tools to consider: These tools are suggestions for initiating a discussion to determine the best pathways for the student in learning environments.


Complete absence from the school environment for more than one week is not generally recommended. Children/adolescents should receive temporary academic accommodations (e.g, modifications to schedule, classroom environment and workload) to support a return to the school environment in some capacity as soon as possible.

Level of Evidence:


Recommendation 2.3cRecommend that patients avoid school activities associated with a risk of contact, fall, or collisions such as high speed and/or contact activities and full-contact sport that may increase the risk of sustaining another concussion during the recovery period. Advise/emphasize that returning to full-contact sport or high-risk activities before the child/adolescent has recovered increases the risk of delayed recovery and for sustaining another more severe concussion or more serious injury.


Assess for school difficulties using clinical judgment.

Level of Evidence:   

Determine how much school the child/adolescent has missed post-concussion and how much missed workload the child/adolescent is expected to catch up on from missed school days.

Obtain school records to determine what issues may have been present prior to the concussion

School or cognitive difficulties may overlap with vision, vestibular, hearing, mental health, and social/family issues. Please assess.


Manage school difficulties. 

Level of Evidence:  

On re-evaluation, experienced health professionals (and school-based educational professionals where available) should manage school cognitive difficulties, provide accommodations, and reduce stressors. This should be done in collaboration with the child/adolescent, parents/caregivers, schools and/or employers to support success in the home, school, and community.

Refer to an interdisciplinary concussion team and/or a school-based educational professional (if available) if symptoms interfere with daily functioning more than 4 weeks following a concussion (Domain 9: Cognition). Refer for a formal evaluation if school difficulties may have been pre-existing.

Use tools to encourage reintegration within the school, employment, sports, social, and home environments.

Summary of tools to consider:


Encourage patients with school difficulties to engage in cognitive activity and low-risk physical activity as soon as tolerated. Activities that pose no/low risk of sustaining a concussion (no risk of contact, collision, or falling) should be resumed even if mild residual symptoms are present or whenever acute symptoms improve sufficiently to permit activity.

Level of Evidence:   A Gradual return to physical activity. B Gradual return to cognitive activity.

See Recommendation 2.3


Return-to-school and return-to-sport strategies can be performed simultaneously. Recommend that the child/adolescent return-to-school full-time at a full academic load, including writing exams without accommodations related to their concussion/post-concussion symptoms, before returning to full-contact sport or high-risk activities. 

Level of Evidence:   

See Domain 4: Medical clearance for full-contact sport or high-risk activity.


Prioritize return-to-school before return to work.

Level of Evidence:  A Starting return to activity earlier.

For teens who work, please consult the “Guidelines for Concussion/ Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Persistent Symptoms 3rd Edition For Adults (18+ years of age)” for recommendations on how to work with the adolescent’s employer regarding non-academic accommodations so that the adolescent can gradually return to work while promoting recovery.