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A student athlete brain's need rest after a concussion

It was not too long ago that many young athletes who suffered a concussion on the playing field, whether soccer, football or other sports, would have been told to "shake it off" and get back out there. As the toll of concussion-related injures grows in the ranks of professional football players, the consensus has moved that such advice would be extremely negligent today.

Now, all athletes are warned of the consequences of returning to the playing field too quickly, and the necessity of the avoiding any further blows to the head is paramount. A doctor authorizing an athlete's return to activities too soon could be seen as medical malpractice. In addition to refraining from athletic activity, some doctors have recommended avoiding any cognitive activity, allowing the brain a complete rest.

A new study has found that moderate or low levels of mental activity do not impede or lengthen a recovery from a concussion. The report, which looked at 335 children and young adults who sought medical treatment after a concussion, did confirm that engaging in the highest levels of cognitive activity delayed their recovery.

Another researcher pointed out many people, including medical professionals who provide care for concussion victims "underappreciate" the stress cognitive effort makes on a brain injured by a concussion.

The author of the study said that injured student athletes should give their brains a complete rest for three to five days, and then slowly increase their cognitive activity. They can increase their cognitive work unless it makes the symptoms worse.

He recommends that for any student athlete who suffers anything beyond a mild concussion should consult with a concussion specialist, to ensure they receive the proper advice for their recovery.

Source: Reuters, "Brain rest after concussion linked to quicker recovery," Kathryn Doyle, January 6, 2014 

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