Traditional recommendations for treatment after a concussion were to physically rest, avoid sports activities and allow the mind to rest as well, termed “Cognitive rest”. This has been the mainstay of treatment, however there are new ideas in concussion management and new research suggests that some level of physical activity is associated with shorter duration of symptoms.
A recent study this year published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine looked at over 350 patients diagnosed with concussions and compiled data on physical activity level. They concluded that physical activity may not be detrimental to recovery.
Another study suggested that moderate exercise may help to restore the balance of the brain’s auto-regulation mechanism. This study also showed that limiting cognitive activity helped the speed of recovery by over 500 percent.
These studies do not, however define the level of exercise that is best, or how soon it should start and as as result should be applied only when a treating neurologist thinks it is time The treatment of each athlete needs to be tailored to their specific situation and needs.
The understanding of concussions continues to evolve. Studies like these promoting a low level of activity while continuing to rest cognitive function may help to speed recovery and return to sport.
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EXERCISE MAY BE BEST MEDICINE TO TREAT POST-CONCUSSION SYNDROME (PCS): New Approach to Treating PCS May Help Athletes Get Back in the Game Quicker. Released: 27-Jan-2014.
Howell DR, Mannix RC, Quinn B, Taylor JA, Tan CO, Meehan WP. Physical Activity Level and Symptom Duration Are Not Associated After Concussion. Am J Sports Med 2016.
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