Is Rest a Sufficient Prescription for Adolescents with Concussion?

Rest for concussion treatment

With concussions accounting for 70-90% of brain injuries in the U.S., proper treatment is becoming more and more important. Following a concussion, patients are often told that they need to rest and give their brain time to heal from the traumatic incident—especially in the first few days. Rest is prescribed so patients avoid activities that could result in a second concussion. However, there is another reason—in theory, when the brain goes into a neurometabolic crisis following a concussion, rest can facilitate spontaneous neurometabolic recovery.

A recent study analyzed the benefits of comprehensive rest for adolescents with persistent symptoms following a concussion. Rest, in this study, was defined as staying home from school and avoiding other physically and mentally stimulating activities. The study had strict criteria, leading to a small sample size of only 13 adolescents. Of these patients, 46% had attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and 77% reported history of prior concussions. Due to the participants past medical history, it is stated that, “this sample had an over-representation of risk or complicating factors for concussion recovery.” The participants were evaluated at three intervals after their concussion: before prescribed rest outside of the specialty clinic, before prescribed rest inside the specialty clinic, and one week after prescribed rest inside the specialty clinic. Eight of the thirteen patients experienced improved symptoms or improved cognitive test scores after prescribed rest.

This study suggests that prescribing rest to concussion patients has clear benefits, even in the event of prior concussions or cognitive disorders. The study also suggests that patients ease back into their pre-concussion activities at a moderate pace, allowing their brain time to finish healing and not interfere with the overall outcome.

Click here to read the abstract for the article.