For years now, people recovering from concussions have been prescribed total rest to allow their brains time to recover from the injury. But new research is turning that advice on its head, finding that too much rest may actually be doing more harm than good.
“What we’re finding is the literature doesn’t support a prolonged period of rest,” said Kathryn Schneider, a researcher with the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Kinesiology. “So what we advise is a period of 24 or 48 hours of both cognitive and physical rest – so resting your brain and your body – and then gradually getting more physically active.”
The new advice is published in an international consensus statement on concussion in sport which will now be used to guide how doctors treat the injury around the world.
The document continues to recommend that any athlete suspected to have suffered a concussion should immediately be removed from the game and should not return to play until a doctor clears them.
To help with identifying the injury, researchers have developed a pocket card called a Concussion Recognition Tool.
“The tool is recommended for use by the general public, parents, athletes, coaches and officials to help recognize concussions so athletes can be removed from the game and assessed by a medical professional.”