Physical Activity May Speed Up Concussion Recovery, New Study Finds

Kids exercise
Participating in light aerobic exercise following a concussion may speed up recovery in kids. (Kagual / Shutterstock.com)
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Current standard treatment for concussions involves plenty of rest, but the new study adds to growing evidence that “light” aerobic exercise – like walking or stationary biking – may assist in recovery. In the study, kids who were more active after their concussion had fewer persistent symptoms than those who only rested.

Exercise may help increase blood flow to the brain and improve mood in the days following a concussion, says Christopher Bailey, Director of the Sports Medicine Concussion Center at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center.

"A concussion really causes an energy crisis in the brain," Bailey said. "The brain requires a lot of energy to help itself recover in those early phases… Activity like that may help to improve the energy resources in the brain. The other thing is that often people who get concussions, especially kids, tend to be very active people… It helps them to feel normal by being active. So that activity may help to reduce other kinds of problems, like depression or feeling stagnant. So those kinds of things I think are probably what the activity is really targeting."

Bailey cautions against kids taking part in more strenuous activity or contact sports immediately after a concussion, as that could increase the risk for a head injury. The next steps will involve further research to investigate whether light physical activity could be used as an actual concussion treatment in the future.

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