New Study Shows Kids Need Less Mental Exertion as Well as Physical, to Recover from Concussions
The study was published in Pediatrics on Monday, January 6th. It showed that nearly 50% of kids and young adults who did not reduce their mental strain after suffering a concussion took 100 days or more to fully recover. Among those that had cut back on both mental and physical exertion, almost all had recovered from their concussions at 100 days, and most of them recovered completely from the concussion within a couple of months.
The study followed 335 patients between the ages of 8 and 23 at the sports concussion clinic at the Boston Children’s Hospital. The patients, who averaged age 15, were asked, at each visit to the clinic, to describe their symptoms and also how much they had worked their brains since their last visit, detailing each question in a survey.
This is the first such study to find evidence that cutting back on mental activity, such as homework, can shorten recovery time after a concussion. However, pediatricians have long suspected that children and young adults need to cut back on strenuous mental activity to help heal from a concussion, and often recommend such steps.
The study’s co-author, Dr. William Meehan, said that the study showed that, for many children, it was enough to cut back on homework or other mental exercises for 3 to 5 days after a concussion. “Then you can gradually reintroduce them to cognitive activity. They should do as much as they can without exacerbating their symptoms.”
“All the cells fire and the brain needs an enormous amount of fuel to equilibrate,” explained David Hovda, a professor of neurosurgery and director of the Brain Injury Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, while trying to describe what a concussion is. “The brain is then exhausted so it shuts down and becomes very quiet … If you activate the brain during the time it’s trying to shut itself down, it will activate, but that will make recovery much more prolonged.”
After anyone suffers a concussion, it is important to pay attention to symptoms and get rest to help heal the brain. This is particularly important in children and young adults, because their brains are still forming.
“You do everything based on what doesn’t aggravate the situation,” said Dr. Robert Cantu, a professor of neurology and neurosurgery at the Boston University School of Medicine and co-director of the Center for the Study of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. “If kids can do 15 to 20 minutes on the computer without aggravating their symptoms, let them. But if headaches get worse after only 5 or 10 minutes, then you need to shut this down completely. Everything needs to be tailored to the individual.”
“There are definitely individuals with symptoms that are so bad that the best thing to do is to take a period of months off from school,” Cantu added. “That is a small minority, however.”
The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Personal Injury Cases Related to Concussions and TBI
If your child received a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a result of negligence on the part of the school or sports league, you may have a personal injury case. The attorneys at Strom Law, LLC can help. We offer free consultations to help get you on the road to recovery, so contact us today. 803.252.4800.