It’s commonly believed that mental rest is an important part of concussion recovery, and though it’s still debated whether or not mental exercise could actually help recovery, new studies are beginning to shed some light on the topic, suggesting that at least 3 days of rest after the injury are beneficial to recovery.
Of Mice and Concussions
A study conducted at Georgetown University Medical Center, using the brains of mice, has found that physical and mental rest is critical to allowing the brain to recover by rehabilitating neural networks. Furthermore, not resting can cause brain damage and inflammation that can last for over a year. The study also emphasizes that when another impact to the brain happens in a short span of time, the brain does not facilitate the same recovery it normally would.
Speedier Concussion Recovery
A similar study was conducted recently, entitled “Effects of Cognitive Activity Level on Duration of Post-Concussion Symptoms”. The study, completed at a children’s hospital in Boston, found that by resting the mind after a concussion, recovery time could be improved by up to 500%. It concluded that cognitive rest for 3-5 days after the injury worked best, suggesting that activities using concentration or memory in this time frame should be avoided.
Though the specifics and timeframes vary, both studies highlight the first few days as the key timeframe for rest.
This thinking is along the same lines as Dr. Robert Cantu’s, who claims that cognitive rest should be used to the extent that mental exertion does not exacerbate symptoms.
Though there is still a lot to learn, a lot of progress has been made in understanding concussions. And until we know otherwise, rest is still key in the first few days.