Updated 06:46 PM EDT, Wed, Jul 30, 2014

Using Too Much Brain Power Slows Concussion Recovery Process, Study Claims

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The Human Brain
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A new study shows that if young people and adolescents want to recover faster from concussions they should focus on relaxing and gradually returning to activities that require lots of concentration

The study, first published in Pediatrics magazine (via WebMD), claims that young people who try to rush back into a normal routine after having a concussion on average have a longer overall recovery period. Dr. Naomi Brown, the study's lead author and a physician in the division of sports medicine at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia found that of the 300 concussion patients monitored in the survey, the ones with the longest recovery time (around 100 days) had the greatest mental activity in that time.

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While this may be taken as a sign that those with head injuries should avoid doing any sort of mental exercise, as Brown explained that this does help patients recover either:

"If you shut down completely, meaning you don't go to school or do any reading or screen time, or if you do a little bit less than normal, you recover in the same time period -- an average of 20 to 50 days."

Instead, Brown recommends that recovery should be tailored to each individual patient. After all, one person may find themselves feeling normal after a few days while another could suffer from symptoms for weeks afterwards. Brown feels that patients should gradually get back into normal levels of cognitive use based on their comfort levels during recovery:

"We are not recommending complete abstinence from school, especially after the first week...If you go to school for a couple of hours and you are doing OK, then the next day you can go for a little bit more and slowly test it out."

Overall, Brown and her colleagues quizzed the patients in the study, who ranged in age from 8 to 23 years old, about their mental activity levels in conjunction with a concussion-symptom scale to see how fast they recovered. Those patients who used significant or full mental activity had the longest average recovery times of those surveyed. As for those who slowed their mental activity down and gradually returned to their normal routine after a concussion, symptoms disappeared much faster, with 43 days being the average recovery time.
This study backs up previous research on concussions, which also concluded that resting a person's brain is the best choice available for patients after suffering from brain injuries.

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