Child's brain needs to rest after a concussion

New study finds kids may recover more quickly by cutting back on reading, homework, video games

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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A new study finds kids with concussions may benefit from a break from the books. 

"It's impossible to completely, mentally rest or avoid all mental activity after a concussion. But what you have to do is avoid those activities that make your symptoms worse, whether it's video games, television, reading, or schoolwork, trying to limit those activities to allow us to recover," explained Dr. Andrew Russman, who did not take part in the study but treats concussions at Cleveland Clinic.

Researchers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia looked at nearly 350 concussed kids, whose average age was 15.  Cognitive activity was monitored as they recovered.

Results show concussed kids who kept up a full schedule of cognitive activity took about 100 days to recover from symptoms, compared to 20 to 50 days for those who did less homework, reading, or video games.

Researchers say the results support recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which pushes to allow students cognitive rest while recovering from a concussion because it may speed recovery.

Russman says it's important parents and educators understand how backing off on the books can help a child recover faster.

"One of those recommendations that concussion specialists have had for a long time is that when it comes to school or school activities, or other types of mental activities, if we get symptoms we need to rest, recover, and then return to those," said Russman.

Complete findings for this study are available online in the journal Pediatrics.

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