Patients should give themselves ample time to rest after a concussion, the most common type of traumatic brain injury, a new study argues. Conducted at Georgetown University, the study states that more than a day’s rest is “critical” to allow the brain to recover and rebalance itself by rehabilitating neural networks. Not resting, meanwhile, may result in potential brain damage and inflammation that can last for over a year after injury. The study was done in mice, but the researchers believe its implications can be linked to humans.
“It is good news that the brain can recover from a hit if given enough time to rest and recover,” Mark Burns, assistant professor of neuroscience at GUMC, director of the Laboratory for Brain Injury and Dementia, and an author of the study, said in the press release. “But on the flip side, we find that the brain does not undertake this rebalancing when impacts come too close together. The findings mirror what has been observed about such damage in humans years after a brain injury, especially among athletes,” Burns said in the press release. “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.”