This is Part One of a two part series on the things necessary for concussion recovery. Disclaimer: if you’ve fallen or sustained a head injury, please seek medical care right away. This blog is not meant to diagnose or treat a concussion, but to give information about how concussions may be treated.
Rest can be the most critical factor in concussion recovery. Any physical or mental activities that reproduce or worsen symptoms should be avoided. This often means that school, work, and social and recreational activities must be put on hold for a period of time. When this cannot be accomplished, the risk of residual or permanent effects increases and the recovery timeline is extended. In most cases, I will see a full recovery within 3 months in those I am treating. When appropriate rest cannot be arranged, a 6 month recovery timeline should be expected.
Cognitive rest essentially means avoiding unnecessary sensory stimulation. Concussions result in altered brain chemistry which limits the ability for brain to function globally. While in this state, the brain is vulnerable to re-injury and over-stimulation. It is vital that the brain be allowed to rest during this phase of recovery. We’ve listed some of the most common sources of cognitive over-stimulating activities and exposures below.
- Computer work
- Playing video games
- Television viewing
- Reading or writing
- Studying or homework
- Mental calculations
- Taking a test or completing significant projects
- Loud music
- Bright lights
- Busy places
During recovery, any mental or physical activities that produce or worsen symptoms should be avoided. The common symptoms of over-doing-it include fatigue, irritability, headaches, blurred vision, balance problems, word-finding problems, and dizziness. If any of these signs and symptoms occur, the activity should be discontinued immediately. Initially, a patient with a concussion may not be able to attend to work, school, or recreational activities or may need to rest for many periods during the day.
Physical rest includes getting adequate sleep, taking frequent rest periods or naps, and avoiding physical activity that requires exertion. Your brain will be using every bit of available energy to heal. Using energy on physical activities basically steals energy from the healing process. We’ve listed some basic physical activity restrictions below. Remember that these restrictions are temporary and are meant to facilitate a rapid, full recovery.
- Activities that result in contact and collision and are high risk for re-injury
- High speed and/or intense exercise and/or sports
- Any activity that results in an increased heart rate or increased head pressure (e.g. straining or strength training)
For Part Two of this series which will cover why good nutrition and therapy are beneficial in the concussion recovery process, click HERE. If you’re in Southern Colorado and are in need of concussion recovery help, give us a call at (719) 380-8055 or contact us via this form.