For years, brain researchers have speculated that the brain requires a period of rest in order to heal and recover from a concussion. In studies involving animals, scientists have observed that brain cells experience a significant amount of activity during an injury, which in turns requires the brain to use “an enormous amount of fuel to equilibrate.” As a result, the brain essentially shuts down due to exhaustion. A new study published in Pediatrics reveals that the human brain also requires a period of rest after sustaining an injury from an event like a concussion. A period of rest, best practiced with a major decrease in mental exertion and physical exercise, can accelerate the recovery process.
The researchers, who come from the Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention, studied 335 kids and young adults from 2009 to 2011. The participants had visited a sports concussion clinic within three weeks of experiencing a concussion, according to Reuters. The young people described their symptoms to the researchers and also told the researchers if they had been participating in high cognitive activities since their concussions.
The researchers found that the patients took an average of 43 days to fully recover. The participants who recovered quicker were those with minor concussions and those who did not exert their brains as much as other participants. The young individuals who did more homework or read more saw a significant increase in the amount of time it took for the symptoms of the concussion to subside, according to NBCNews.
The researchers state that the study could help parents and teachers aid in the recovery of a concussion experienced by a young person. However, each child is different and the amount of exertion that can be handled will vary. Some children will be able to use computers without any issues, while others will need to lessen their brain exertion for a longer period of time.