For years, it has been believed that the best treatment for concussions is rest. Now, a group of concussion experts is suggesting otherwise.
According to Craig Meyer of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 37 concussion experts meeting for a conference at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center concluded that rest could actually be counterproductive to the healing process.
“Experts here in Pittsburgh recognized how critical a need it was for us to bring experts together and finally make this statement,” said Dr. David Okonkwo. “This is paradigm shifting. People may underestimate the impact of this, but on a global basis, every single person who sustains a concussion is told prolonged rest. Now, you have 37 of the best and brightest minds in the field saying ‘That’s wrong and, in fact, concussions are treatable and active treatments are superior to doing nothing.’”
The conclusions are being questioned based the receipt of past funding by UPMC from the NFL, the connection of some of the 37 experts to sports teams and leagues, and the exclusion of reporters from the conference. Still, the argument is being made that concussion patients should be more active.
“Exercise is a way of treating this,” Dr. Javier Cardenas, a neurologist at the Barrow Concussion and Brain Injury Center in Arizona, said, via Meyer. “Many times, we see patients who are completely restricted from any physical activity. As one of the major sources of this injury is sports and athletics, for those who are involved in athletics, this is actually a punishment. They become depressed. They become anxious. So allowing them to participate in physical activity — while keeping them out of harms’ way, of course — is actually a rehabilitation method.”
The group’s findings are expected to be published within the next month or two, as part of a broader effort to spread the word that exercise, not rest, may be the better strategy for recovering from a concussion.