Concussions are a frequent and serious form of sports injury. They occur when a blow to the head causes the brain to crash into the skull. Athletes suffering from concussions are often told to rest for a day or two after their injury. However, there is little evidence to support the notion that a brief period of rest is necessary for recovery from concussion. In fact, other studies have even shown that resting can slow the recovery process. With this in mind, researchers investigated moderate aerobic exercise as a form of treatment. Exercise programs have already been shown to have positive effects when used to treat strokes, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome. For this investigation the researchers were interested in finding the best time to start exercising post-injury. However, the study did not address the type, duration, or intensity of the post-concussion exercise.
To determine the best time to begin exercising, the study gathered information from a sports medicine clinic between October 2016 and December 2017. They included information on all concussions that were defined as “acute” (symptoms occurred 14 days or less after the injury). When collecting the information, researchers were careful to record the time that patients actually started exercising, rather than the time recommended by the doctor.
This study encompassed 253 acute concussions with the majority of patients being between 15 and 20 years of age. The scientists found that for each day post-injury that patients delayed exercise there was a corresponding delay in recovery. For a long time we thought that concussion impairs the brain’s ability to use energy provided by the body, and that exercising would only make this worse. However, the results from this study suggest that moderate exercise could accelerate recovery from acute concussions.
Summary written by: Matt Curry
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Earlier time to aerobic exercise is associated with faster recovery following acute sport concussion
David Wyndham Lawrence, Doug Richards, Paul Comper, Michael G. Hutchison