Mental strain after concussion slows recovery time

200403880 001concussioncrop 300x200 Mental strain after concussion slows recovery timeYoungsters who suffer sports related concussions need to be cautious about returning to the classroom and begin using electronics right away, as resuming everyday life too quickly might hamper recovery, researchers say.

According to experts, kids and teens who engaged in tasks that required cognitive challenges after a concussion like reading, playing video games, texting including homework had longer recoveries than those who abstained from such types of activities.

The study found student athletes who took time off and gave their brains a rest from mental exertion exhibited the quickest recovery from headaches, dizziness, nausea and other concussion symptoms.

Co-author of the study, Dr. William Meehan, director of the Sports Concussion Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital, said “We recommend a period of near full mental rest after injury — approximately three to five days — followed by a gradual return to full levels of mental activity.”

Details of the study

The objective of the study was to examine whether mental strain slows concussion recovery. Researchers tracked 335 student athletes between the ages of 8 and 23 who were treated for concussions incurred on the field at the Sports Concussion Clinic at Boston Children’s hospital.

They were monitored until their full recovery and given questionnaires during each clinical visit to measure their activity levels and describe their symptoms. The participants were given five options pertaining to the amount of mental work they engaged in: complete mental rest (shut down of all sorts of activities that required thinking), minimal mental activity (no reading or homework and less than 20 minutes of daily online activity and video games), moderate mental activity (reading less than 10 pages a day and spending less than an hour on homework, online activity and video games), significant mental activity (reading less and doing less homework than usual) and lastly full mental activity.

An assessment with a concussion-symptom scale found that patients with the highest levels of cognitive activity took about 100 days to completely recover from concussion symptoms while those who cut back their mental strain took approximately 20 to 50 days.

Dr. John Kuluz, a traumatic brain injury expert at Miami Children’s Hospital said, “Rest is the cornerstone of concussion therapy. I tell my patients, ‘You have to slow down, but I don’t want you to do nothing. I want you to find the right amount of mental activity for you, and you find that level by paying attention to your symptoms.’”

The study was published in Pediatrics.

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