University of Michigan Study Suggest that Exercise After Concussion Improves Recovery

September 10, 2019, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

Until recently the treatment protocol for concussion included weeks or months of complete rest, sometimes in dark rooms with limited to no mental stimulation. It was thought that this allowed the brain time to heal.

Dr. Michael Popovich, M.D., MPH is a sports neurologist at the university of Michigan’s – Michigan Neurosport. His recent research shows that the ‘rest completely method’ may do more harm than good. According to his study recently published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine moderate prescribed exercise may speed up recovery.

This holds specifically true for amateur and professional athletes for whom their sport is part of their identity. Dr. Popovich believes that barring the injured athletes from any activity causes a significant psychological impact and may impede their recovery.

In his study Dr. Popvich and his team looked at 194 consecutive new patient charts for individuals seen within 30 days of sustaining a Sports Related Concussion (SRC). They examined the recovery periods for those athletes who were cleared early to resume ports related activities with those who were not. What their analysis showed was that the group that returned to some activity earlier suffered fewer symptomatic days, and that those individuals returned to sport earlier.

You can read the research study here.

The Abstract of the study is as follows:

Use of Supervised Exercise During Recovery Following Sports-Related Concussion

Popovich, Michael MD, MPH*; Almeida, Andrea MD*; Freeman, Jeremiah BS, ATC; Eckner, James T. MD, MS; Alsalaheen, Bara PhD*; Lorincz, Matthew MD, PhD*; Sas, Andrew MD, PhD*

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: February 12, 2019 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - p

doi: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000721


Objective: To assess the safety of supervised exercise (SE) in acute sport-related concussion (SRC) and its influence on recovery.

Design: Retrospective cohort study.

Setting: University SRC clinic at a tertiary care center.

Patients: One hundred ninety-four consecutive new patient charts were reviewed. Patients were included if they were seen within 30 days of sustaining a SRC, and their medical records included all required data elements. One hundred twenty-six patients were included in the analysis.

Interventions: Symptomatic patients who initiated SE within 16 days of SRC (n = 24) were compared with those who did not undergo SE or initiated SE after postinjury day 16 (n = 84). Age, sex, history of previous concussions, injury severity, relevant comorbidities, and other treatments received were included in the analysis.

Main Outcome Measures: The association between early SE and clearance for return to sport was determined using a hazard ratio (HR). The number of days from SRC until clearance for return to sport and the number of days symptomatic from concussion were also compared between early SE and nonearly SE cohorts.

Results: No serious adverse events occurred in the early SE group. Early SE was associated with earlier return to sport (HR = 2.35, P = 0.030). The early SE group had fewer days from SRC until clearance for return to sport (mean 26.5 ± 11.2 days vs 35.1 ± 26.5 days, P = 0.020). There was a trend toward fewer symptomatic days in the early SE group (P = 0.054).

Conclusion: Early SE performed in the symptomatic stage of SRC was safe and associated with earlier return to sport.


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