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Is activity better than rest after a concussion?

Doctors and scientists are constantly studying various treatments for concussions and other brain injuries in an effort to mitigate the short-term and long-term effects of such injuries. Traditionally, doctors have advised athletes and others who have suffered concussions to rest and refrain from activity for a period of time in order to aid their healing.

However, doctors working for the Ben Hogan Sports Medicine Center, which has facilities located throughout Texas, say that they've had success with just the opposite approach -- keeping patients active following a concussion. Doctors who have been working with 1,400 student-athletes at their three concussion centers this year say that young people who have been kept after their injuries have experienced faster recoveries from the effects of their concussions.

These doctors aren't alone in espousing the benefits of remaining active after suffering a concussion. Recent studies have found that kids who began exercising within a week after their injury reported experiencing fewer symptoms a month after their concussion than those who did not engage in physical activity.

Of course, the exercise programs are designed and monitored by physicians and physical therapists. They include rehabilitation techniques that focus on cognitive, vision and balance issues that are common after a concussion.

One sports medicine physician says, "We feel like these athletes that are shut down and don't do anything at all tend to struggle more than the ones that we allow to do a little activity and gradually increase it over time" He also says that allowing them to have some level of activity can help prevent other common post-concussion health issues, including depression.

Thus far, the American Academy of Pediatrics is still recommending that young people who have suffered concussions rest, both physically and cognitively, until their symptoms have subsided. However, if further studies corroborate these results, those guidelines could change.

It wasn't reported the theory that some level of activity is preferable to complete rest applies to adults who have suffered concussions or not. Every physician has his or her own preference, so it's generally best to follow the advice of an experienced Colorado physician.

The important thing is to receive an accurate diagnosis and quality medical care as soon as possible after suffering an injury. If the injury was caused by the actions or negligence of others, you may be able to seek compensation to help cover your medical bills through a lawsuit.

Source: NBC DFW Channel 5, "Treating Concussions With Activity," Bianca Castro, Nov. 18, 2016

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