Brain Rest Necessary after Concussion

An article in the journal Pediatrics verifies what clinicians have suspected: cognitive “rest” after a concussion is critical and leads to shorter recovery time.

For the study, the researchers analyzed 335 youth and young adults who visited a clinic because of a concussion from 2009-2011– most of the patients were injured playing ice hockey, soccer and/or football. 19% of them reported losing consciousness, and 37% reported symptoms of amnesia immediately after the injury.

One group did not read or do homework during recovery – they spent less than 20 minutes a day online or playing video games each day, although they were allowed to listen to music or watch movies.

Another group of patients did some reading and homework, but less than usual.

A third group had no cognitive rest — they continued all brain activities as usual.

The group who were the most active cognitively had a significantly longer recovery; those who did some homework and reading recovered about the same length of time as those who were placed on complete brain rest.

According to an article in Reuters Health, the general public doesn’t recognize how much of a strain cognitive activities put on an injured brain. The authors of this current study emphasize the importance of this research when it comes to assessing when kids who’ve had concussions should return to school.

Last week, published research showed a link between concussions and Alzheimer’s — researchers emphasized, however, that the link was associative and not necessarily causal.

Last month, the National Football League announced that it will team up with the National Institutes of Health to fund research that will more thoroughly investigate the consequences of concussive and non-concussive brain injuries over time. The goal is to assess risk to young people who have experienced brain trauma and to assess why some, but not all those who have had  a concussion experience neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimers, and Lou Gehrig’s (ALS) disease.


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