Optimizing Concussion Recovery: The Role of Activity Type and Early Return to School

March 07, 2024, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

In a recent study conducted at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, researchers have unveiled valuable insights into concussion recovery, emphasizing the importance of activity type and an early return to school. Published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine on February 12, 2024, the study challenges traditional notions of complete physical and mental rest after a concussion and suggests that certain activities may expedite symptom resolution, particularly for adolescents with lower post-acute symptom scores.

Lead author Jingzhen Ginger Yang, PhD, MPH, from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's, highlights the significance of the study's findings. The research indicates that increased time spent in the classroom and engaging in after-school activities or work is associated with faster symptom resolution, especially for individuals with lower post-acute symptom scores. Conversely, activities involving significant screen time, such as internet surfing or video/computer gaming, during the first week post-injury were linked to slower symptom resolution.

While previous research has hinted at the benefits of introducing physical activity early in pediatric concussion recovery, this study delves into the intensity and duration of cognitive activity and its potential impact on recovery outcomes. Adolescents aged 11-17 were surveyed on their daily cognitive activities post-concussion, revealing that low-intensity cognitive activities, including listening to music, reading, watching television, and making or receiving phone calls, were associated with faster symptom resolution.

The study challenges the conventional wisdom of complete rest advocated by previous clinical guidelines for youth with concussions. Prolonged physical rest has shown limited improvement in functional outcomes, with potential unintended consequences on physical, social, and educational aspects. Co-author Thomas Pommering, DO, division chief and director of concussion clinics at Nationwide Children's, advises a balanced approach, encouraging children and teens to return to their routines while being mindful of screen time in non-school activities.

The average time for children to return to school after a concussion was nearly one week, with slower symptom resolution observed when the return to school was delayed. Engaging in club activities was associated with faster symptom resolution, emphasizing the positive impact of social and extracurricular involvement.

The study suggests several clinical implications for managing adolescent concussions:

1. Early Cognitive Activity: Adolescents with concussions, especially those with less severe post-acute symptoms, may benefit from moderate- to high-intensity cognitive activity as early as the first week post-injury.

2. Screen Time Management: Limiting moderate-intensity activities involving significant screen time during the first week post-injury, without prohibiting them entirely, may contribute to a speedier recovery.

3. Early Return to School: The study underscores the importance of an early return to school, as delayed reintegration was associated with slower symptom resolution.

4. Collaborative Planning: Families are encouraged to collaborate with their child's care team to develop a tailored plan based on injury severity and recovery milestones.

The bidirectional relationship between cognitive activity and symptom resolution highlights the need for a nuanced approach, considering the evolving nature of post-concussion symptoms. This research provides a foundation for refining clinical guidelines and underscores the importance of individualized care for adolescents recovering from concussions.

These findings challenge conventional practices, paving the way for a more tailored and effective approach to managing adolescent concussions.

If you or a loved one has experienced a serious injury, contact the experienced lawyers at Deutschmann Personal Injury Law for guidance and support.

Posted under Accident Benefit News, Concussion Syndrome, Personal Injury, concussion, traumatic brain injury

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