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Experts: Concussion Must Be Treated By Fully Resting Brain From Activity

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Doctors know the period right after a concussion is very vulnerable time for the brain, especially for children.

As CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported, doctors thus recommend resting the brain after a concussion, but experts have now advised that the rest in question should be far more extensive than previously thought.

When a child suffers a concussion, we usually think recovery means not going back to the activity that caused the concussion – until symptoms such as a headache or mental slowness subside and other cognitive functions return to normal.

But experts said the recovery is much faster if you rest the brain — and resting the brain means engaging in as little mental activity as possible.

“It’s impossible to completely mentally rest or avoid all mental activity after a concussion,” said Dr. Andrew Russman of the Cleveland Clinic. “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.”

Researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia reported in the journal Pediatrics on nearly 350 concussed youngsters, with an average age of 15. They monitored the concussion victims’ cognitive activity as they recovered.

Results showed that concussed kids who kept up a full schedule of cognitive activity – including school – took about 100 days to recover. That compared to 20 to 50 days for those who did less homework and reading and played video games less often.

“One of those recommendations that concussion specialists have had for a long time is that when it comes to school or school activities, or other types of mental activities — if we get symptoms we need to rest, recover, and then return to those,” Russman said.

The key, according to experts, is to ramp up normal activities slowly – including schoolwork and sports. If at any point symptoms return, then youngsters – as well as adults – must back off those activities to allow more healing and then slowly ramp up again.

Researchers said the results support recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which pushes to allow students cognitive rest while recovering from a concussion because it may speed recovery.

Russman said it is important that parents and educators understand how backing off on the books can help a child recover faster.

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