Concussion conference suggests that rest may not be the best treatment

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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.

13 responses to “Concussion conference suggests that rest may not be the best treatment

  1. It would make sense that more oxygen traveling through the brain would speed the healing process … and be a no brainer …

  2. So the expert doctors who prescribed rest for the players, the ones the NFL provided, were not among “the best and brightest in the field.”

  3. Highly aerobic exercise (road cycling, massive hills) pulled me back from the abyss of a severe concussion. For the first few months I could literally feel the mo’ betta’ after every intense ride. It was like an oxygen bath on my brain. And then, the relaxed exhilaration that follows intense aerobic exercise really helped counter the redined anxiety and always-looming depression of the injury.

    So, I support the notion of activity. HOWEVER, I think rest is really crucial in the immediate aftermath. Cool, dark, quiet, no “screens” for at least a few days. Or even weeks. These are injuries that take years to resolve. Mine took about 3 years to feel right again. So, take things really easy at first but ramp into highly aerobic activity within say a couple months.

    Preventing further impacts to the brain in the initial months is really important. So, whatever aerobic activity is chosen, should be low risk. For myself, I took up cycling, which actually is high risk for head injury. So sue me.

    For NFL athletes?! Pretending we care about their health is a farce. Face it guys, we watch these gladiators wreck their bodies for our amusement. I certainly do. Nobody should be on an NFL field for months- if ever- after a significant concussion.

  4. I think that progressive techniques show a level of activity helps. Look at Sidney Crosby as an example …

  5. Proof that medical science really has no clue. They constantly change their view about any medical condition.

  6. It would make sense that more oxygen traveling through the brain would speed the healing process … and be a no brainer …


    If you increase blood pressure to an area where trauma has occurred, it can lead to hemorrhage due to damaged blood vessels

  7. The league’s recent strategy to combat CTE has clearly been to allow more brainless idiots to play – over time, fewer identifiable cases will be clearly attributed to game damage, and only girlfriends, kids and pedestrians get hurt.

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