Exercise After Concussion – A Shift in Thinking

Exercising on treadmillFor years, the standard protocol after suffering a concussion was a period of strict rest followed by a gradual return to physical activity. But researchers, scientists, and physicians began to question the effectiveness of zero physical activity following a concussion as studies began to emerge showing strict rest added no benefit, or worse, slowed recovery.

Post-Concussion Symptom Scale (PCSS)

Because concussions are typically not observable on MRI or CT scans, and physicians often rely on patients and their family members to report continuing concussion symptoms, a test called the Post-Concussion Symptom Scale (PCSS) was developed to aid physicians in treating concussion patients. PCSS is a self-reported measure of symptoms and level of severity following a concussion. Concussion symptoms can include headache, nausea, sadness, dizziness, irritability, feeling foggy, sleep disturbances, problems with memory and concentration, visual problems, and many more. A scientific study published earlier this year in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that physical exercise significantly decreased PCSS scores, days off of work, and overall symptoms of a concussion. Additionally, physical exercise had a positive impact on reaction time.

Does Aerobic Exercise Help with Concussion Recovery?

Another research study published this month, concluded earlier return to aerobic exercise is associated with faster recovery following acute sport concussions. Researchers at the University of Toronto set out to study the benefits of beginning aerobic exercise within one week of suffering a concussion. Aerobic exercise was defined as jogging, running, swimming, cycling, or using stationary aerobic equipment. The study found that an earlier return to aerobic activity (within the first week) was associated with faster recovery. Similarly, for each successive day in delay of starting aerobic exercise, individuals had a less favorable recovery trajectory.

Be Sure You Follow the Doctor's Orders

This emerging research is positive for treating concussion patients, but keep in mind, strenuous physical and cognitive activity after concussion can overly stress the body and mind, exacerbate symptoms, lead to secondary injury, and slow recovery time; it is still discouraged. Also, the exercise programs were prescribed by physicians and included several elements including frequency, intensity, time, and type of exercise. If you suspect you have sustained a concussion, always see a doctor before starting an exercise program.

Have You Suffered a Concussion After a Florida Accident?

If you've suffered a concussion following a Florida accident you should speak with an experienced brain injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.

If you would like more information on concussions and traumatic brain injuries, download our free guide, The Layman’s Guide to Brain Injuries. You can learn more about what to expect after you’ve been diagnosed with a concussion/TBI.

Jim Dodson
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A Florida injury lawyer, family man and avid cyclist who clients have trusted for over 25 years.
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