January 6, 2014 3:19 pm
Updated: January 6, 2014 8:32 pm

Skip homework, video games, following concussion in kids, study says

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Video: Doctors have long recommended kids take a break from physical activity when recovering from a concussion, but new research show their brains need a break from mental activity as well. Christina Stevens reports.

TORONTO – Your little boy or girl recovering from a concussion may be bored staring at the ceiling all day but a new study is suggesting that brain rest is key for faster healing.

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Researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia say that means even staying away from homework, playing video games or reading books.

For years, doctors have warned against physical activity and anything else that may be strenuous to concussed athletes. In this case, the scientists say that getting back to everyday tasks could be delaying recovery.

“After a concussion, we recommend rest because kids tend to do too much,” the study’s lead author,  sports medicine doctor Naomi Brown, told Health Day.

“We recommend a period of near full mental rest after injury – approximately three to five days – followed by a gradual return to full levels of mental activity,” another study author, Dr. William Meehan said.

READ MORE: Pull athletes showing signs of concussion, updated guidelines warn

The study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, suggested that only kids who reported the most mental activity while recovering took the longest time to get better. It was an average of 100 days.

If kids took a break completely or they cut down on school, screen time or reading, they fared better. In those cases, recovery took about 20 to 50 days.

READ MORE: Mood swings, memory loss first symptoms of brain disease in hockey, football players

But the study authors aren’t recommending kids go cold turkey from school and any other activities. It’s about gradually adding more tasks to each day.

“If you go to school for a couple of hours, and you’re doing okay, then the next day you can go for a little bit more and slowly test it out,” Brown said.

READ MORE: Even without concussion, head injuries still affect learning, memory, study warns

“It’s impossible to completely mentally rest or avoid all mental activity after a concussion. But what you have to do is avoid those activities that make your symptoms worse, whether it’s video games, television, reading, or schoolwork, trying to limit those activities to allow us to recover,” Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Andrew Russman explained.

Once headaches, blurred vision or dizziness comes up, your child has to backtrack and go back to resting, though.

Concussion research was a huge field of study in 2013 in North America and abroad. Last year, Canada co-chaired an international panel that called for change when it comes to dealing with concussion in sports.

READ MORE: Panel finds helmets, mouth guards don’t prevent concussions

That group, made up of 30 doctors around the world, said that even the most advanced equipment, such as helmets and mouth guards, aren’t necessarily protecting kids from concussion.

carmen.chai@globalnews.ca

© 2014 Shaw Media

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