Is Rest the Best Medicine for a Concussion?

Is Rest the Best Medicine for a Concussion?

Many clinicians recommend rest as the primary treatment for their patients with a concussion. Yet, new research indicates that complete rest, beyond the first days after the injury, may not lead to better outcomes.

Too much rest can slow down recovery

In a recent article by Thomas and colleagues, 88 patients were randomized to “Strict Rest” or “Usual Care” groups.1 Not only was there no significant difference between groups in neurocognitive or balance outcomes at day 10, but the “Strict Rest” group also reported more daily symptoms and slower time for overall symptom resolution. So, the concept that concussion is treated exclusively with rest is changing.

Treating concussion with activity

There is still a lot to learn about the role of activity after a concussion in both symptomatic and symptom-free patients. Vestibular, cervical, and exertion therapies appear to enhance recovery in certain cases.

Exertion training – previously thought to be only for symptom-free patients – has been beneficial for slow-to-recover patients. While they cannot return to contact sport without full resolution, the introduction of activity may help these patients get better faster.