Power Down to Speed Concussion Recovery: Study
Research supports several days' mental rest, including no screen time
But every patient is different, Brown said. An 18-year-old might feel great two days after a concussion and be ready to return to school, but a 10-year-old might need extra time, she said.
The findings support current recommendations.
Dr. John Kuluz, director of traumatic brain injury and brain rehabilitation at Miami Children's Hospital, said he counsels concussion patients to take it easy. "Rest is the cornerstone of concussion therapy," he said.
"I tell my patients, 'You have to slow down, but I don't want you to do nothing. I want you to find the right amount of mental activity for you, and you find that level by paying attention to your symptoms,'" Kuluz said.
For the study, Brown's team followed 335 people aged 8 to 23 who had suffered a concussion. Their average age was 15.
Each patient reported the amount of mental activity they engaged in: complete mental rest; minimal mental activity (no reading or homework, and less than 20 minutes of online activity and video games a day); moderate mental activity (reading fewer than 10 pages per day, and spending less than an hour on homework, online activity and video games); significant mental activity (reading less and doing less homework than usual); or full mental activity.
The researchers used a concussion-symptom scale and found that patients who engaged in the most mental activity took about 100 days to completely recover, having no headaches, dizziness or blurred vision.
For those who gave their brains time to heal, recovery time was cut to an average of 43 days, the study found.
Study co-author Michael Collins is one of the developers and owners of the company that created and sells the concussion-assessment tool used in the study.