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Prolonged Bed Rest May Worsen Concussion Recovery

Two days proved more effective than five days in small study of teens

MONDAY, Jan. 5, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- For teens who suffer a mild concussion, more rest may not be better -- and may be worse -- in aiding recovery from the brain injury, new research suggests. The findings of the small study were published online Jan. 5 in Pediatrics.

Danny Thomas, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, and colleagues randomly assigned 88 patients aged 11 to 22 years to one to two days of rest followed by a gradual return to normal activities or five days of strict rest. That meant no school, work, or physical activity.

The researchers found no significant difference in balance or mental functioning between teens who rested five days and those who rested one to two days, although those assigned to five days of strict rest reported more symptoms that lasted longer. Patients in both groups said they had about a 20 percent decrease in energy exertion and physical activity. Predictably, patients assigned to five days of rest missed more days of school than those assigned to one to two days of rest.

"Strict rest for five days immediately after concussion did not help teenagers get better, compared to our current advice of one to two days of rest followed by a gradual return to activity," Thomas told HealthDay. "We found that teenagers instructed to rest for five days actually reported more symptoms over the course of the study."

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