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Study Suggests New Concussion Treatment Protocol

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are particularly common among children and young adults. Even concussions can have long-lasting consequences if not treated properly.

As San Diego injury lawyers, we are interested in the results of a new study suggesting that rest may not be the best medicine after a concussion. In fact, too much rest may actually inhibit recovery.

“Contrary to expectations, strict rest for five days immediately after concussion did not help teenagers get better compared to our current advice of one to two days of rest followed by a gradual return to activity,” researcher Dr. Danny G. Thomas told Reuters Health.

Researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee followed 88 patients, ages 11 to 22, who were treated in emergency rooms for concussions. The patients were randomly assigned to one of two treatment protocols — five days of strict rest (no work, school or physical activity) or one to two days of rest followed by a gradual return to activity.

The researchers found that teenagers instructed to rest for five days actually reported more symptoms. The extra rest also did not lead to more rapid improvements in balance or the ability to think clearly.

“The deleterious effects of strict rest may have more to do with emotional distress caused by school and activity restriction,” the researchers concluded. “Missing school interactions and falling behind academically may contribute to situational depression increasing physical and emotional symptoms.”

Despite their findings, the authors of the study caution that there is not one single recommendation for all adolescent concussion patients. Rather, the optimal rest period depends on “age, gender, point in the calendar year, initial symptom level, the particular symptoms that predominate, the level of cognitive function, or other variables.”