According to a recent Georgetown University Medical Center study published in the March 2016 American Journal of Pathology, rest for a period longer than a day after a brain injury or concussion may be critical for repairing short-term brain injury. Mark P. Burns, PhD, an assistant professor of neuroscience at GUMC and the director of the Laboratory for Brain Injury and Dementia, was the lead researcher on the Georgetown study that was performed on mice. The link to the article Dendritic Spine Loss and Chronic White Matter Inflammation in a Mouse Model of Highly Repetitive Head Trauma follows: https://ajp.amjpathol.org/article/S0002-9440(15)00663-X/abstract.

The Georgetown study tested mice who were subjected to repeated, mild concussions. In humans, concussions can come from car accidents, falls, sports such as soccer or football, and other activities resulting in multiple impacts to the head. Dr. Burns stated that his findings resulted in “[g]ood news that the brain can recover from a hit if given enough time to rest and recover. But on the flip side, we find that the brain does not undertake this rebalancing when impacts come too close together.” https://gumc.georgetown.edu/news/First-of-Its-Kind-Study-Explains-Why-Rest-is-Critical-After-A-Concussion It is important to note, however, that the study’s findings and conclusions may be different in humans than in mice.

Some of the reasons rest is important after a concussion is because the “energy level” in the brain may be drained after a concussion. This will require time for the brain to re-stock its energy reserves after injury. Other studies show that exercise too soon after a concussion may delay brain recovery resulting in prolonged or worsened symptoms. Finally, resting can protect from getting another concussion or concussions close in time to the primary concussion. Multiple concussions can result in a cascading or compounding injury to the brain. In fact, the Georgetown study’s lead researcher, Burns, stated: “Studies have shown that almost all people with single concussions spontaneously recover, but athletes who play contact sports are much more susceptible to lasting brain damage. These findings help fill in the picture of how and when concussions and mild head trauma can lead to sustained brain damage.”

One area on which the study did not focus was the age of the individual impacted by multiple concussions. The reality in human concussions is that the age of the patient may affect a doctor’s order to rest for several days after a concussion. Children’s brains have been found to require more time than adult brains to recover from concussions. The younger the patient and the more severe the injury, the more complete cognitive and physical rest may be required. Further, it may be important to require abstinence from school, electronic devices, sports, television, reading or any form of cognitive activities in addition to physical activities. Once a child does return to activities or school, there may be a need to reduce the course load or shorten the activity. Symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, visual problems and memory issues – to name a few – should be closed monitored and reported to medical professionals.

The personal injury attorneys at Griggs Injury Law, LLC represent individuals who have sustained traumatic brain injuries, head injuries and concussions across the states of Missouri and Kansas. Their office is located in the Kansas City, Missouri area.