Kids need cognitive rest following a concussion

January 9, 2014


Excessive physical activity can lead to dehydration and other complications.

Young athletes who sustain a concussion during a game should not only leave the field, but also take a study break. USA Today reported that a new study published in the journal Pediatrics found that kids, teens and young adults recover more quickly from mild head injuries when they limit their cognitive activity, which means taking a break from homework, reading, the Internet and even text messaging. 

The study was composed of 335 participants who reported various levels of cognitive activity, which was defined as "activities that require you to think harder than usual". According to the news source, those who had the highest level of mental activity had a much longer recovery period than those who rested their brains - 100 days on average, compared to approximately 20 to 50 days, respectively. However, the results do not necessarily mean that all cognitive activities must be halted following a concussion.

"Those who were doing milder levels of cognitive activity recovered at about the same rate as those who were doing minimal levels," said the study's co-author William Meehan, as quoted by the news source. "Only those engaging in the highest levels of cognitive activity had a substantial increase in their symptom duration."

While many sports medicine experts encourage mental rest for concussion patients, there has been little evidence on its effects. The news outlet stated that this study was the first to show the benefits that cognitive rest has on concussion recovery.

Amy Wagner, a doctor who specializes in brain injuries, told Reuters Health that the results of the study could affect when children with concussions return to school. She stated that currently, doctors tend to recommend that kids rest their brains for three to five days before returning to normal activities, whether cognitive or physical. 

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