Contrary to traditional recommendations for prolonged, prescribed rest after a sports-related concussion, new research suggests that a regimen of low-level aerobic exercise may speed recovery and reduce symptoms. In a randomized clinical trial, researchers assessed 103 adolescents within 1 week of experiencing a concussion. Those assigned to aerobic exercise recovered after a median of 13 days compared with 17 days for those assigned to a placebo-like stretching regimen, a statistically significant difference. The findings were published online February 4 in JAMA Pediatrics.
Historically, clinicians instructed youth experiencing sports-related concussions to rest until all symptoms resolved. “That’s fine for the 75% to 80% of people who recover normally, within a week or two,” Dr. John Leddy said. “But what about those who don’t? Do you just tell them to keep resting and wait until it goes away?” An accompanying editorial called the work “a landmark study that may shift the standard of care.”