AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 28, Number 3, 2019

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Study Suggests Exercise After Concussion Improves Recovery

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After a sports-related concussion, traditional recovery recommendations have previously called for weeks or months of rest, depending on the duration of a person’s symptoms.

But Michael Popovich, MD, MPH., a sports neurologist at Michigan NeuroSport, thinks this method could actually do more harm than good.

Recent studies have suggested that regular, daily activities during the initial days of a concussion may actually be safe, not worsen symptoms and even speed up recovery. The research also suggests supervised exercise challenges and mild to moderate levels of physical exertion during that same period could provide similar effects.

Even athletes with symptoms that lasted longer than four weeks benefited from active rehabilitation. However, too early or intense of a return to physical activity was associated with worsening symptoms and a prolonged recovery.

Although the most recent statement on sports-related concussions green lights returning to daily activities only 24 to 48 hours after physical and cognitive rest, a gray area remains in knowing the optimal timing, mode, duration, intensity and frequency.

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