Teens who play high school sports like football that sustain a concussion should avoid texting, homework, and playing video games, according to new research coming out of Boston Children's Hospital.
Researchers say that teen athletes that have suffered a concussion while playing a sport recovered faster when they practiced "cognitive rest."
"We believe this is the first study showing the independent, beneficial effect of limiting cognitive activity on recovery from concussion. Previously, the lack of such data has led to varied practice with regards to implementing cognitive rest, making it even controversial," William Meehan MD, from Boston Children's Division of Sports Medicine, said.
Medical experts have suggested that this recovery technique should be used for at least a decade, but little to no research has been conducted to back these claims up.
Researchers studied athletes with an average age of 15 who had suffered a concussion between October 2009 and July 2011. They assessed the patients' symptoms using the Post-Concussion Symptom Scale and then asked them to complete a Cognitive Activity Scale at every visit.
The five-point scale ranged from "complete cognitive rest-defined as no reading, homework, text messaging, video game playing and online activities-to full cognitive activity, or no limits at all. Cognitive activity levels were divided into quartiles."
Researchers determined that patients who engaged in the highest levels of brain activity after receiving a concussion took the most time to recover. The finding suggests students who have suffered a concussion should be given certain "academic accommodations" such as more time to complete homework assignments.
Researchers also caution that there has to be a healthy balance between cognitive rest and a complete lack of mental activity because research showed that moderate cognitive rest and complete cognitive rest basically produced the same rate of recovery.
"These findings indicate that complete abstinence from cognitive activity may be unnecessary," Meehan said. "Our findings suggest that while vigorous cognitive exertion is detrimental to recovery, more moderate levels of cognitive exertion do not seem to prolong recovery substantially. Thus, we recommend a period of near full cognitive rest acutely after injury, approximately [three to five] days, followed by a gradual return to sub-symptom levels of cognitive activity."
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