Dr. Stephanie Kolakowsky-Hayner, Chief Operating Office at the Brain Trauma Foundation, did a meta analysis that favored safe exercise after concussion.
In addition, she did some analysis based on gender. Her analysis was based on the the Post Concussion Symptoms Scale, which rates symptoms on a scale of 0 to 6. The measures were taken at baseline and after the injury. She found that the Post Concussion Symptoms Scale was significantly greater in females than in males. The percentage of females with symptoms were higher than males.
In addition, females had significantly longer periods of time it took to return to work than males. Significantly less females returned to work after a concussion as well.
She also did the meta-analysis that showed exercise is better than rest after a concussion. In subjects with a concussion, physical exercise decreased symptoms of concussion. Physical exercise also gave a better ImPACT score, which assesses visual memory and processing speed, by testing word memory and recognition and reaction time. There was no difference on the Balance Error Scoring System, which assesses balance after concussion.
On the other side of the coin, physical rest increased symptoms of concussion and worsened ImPACT score. There was no effect on the balance score.
This is consistent with some of the information produced by UCLA right now, which we blogged about last week. A survey by UCLA Health showed that 84 percent of parents said they would make their kids refrain from physical activity after concussion. In reality, a little bit of physical activity, if it’s safe, is good after a mild head injury.
The UCLA research also showed that getting a good night’s sleep is also important to recovery. Headache, mood, and memory will worsen without a full night’s sleep. In addition, being social is an important aspect to recovery. So, parents may have to resist the urge to take the phone away for the benefit of the child.