After a sports-related concussion, traditional recovery recommendations have previously called for weeks or months of rest, depending on the duration of a person’s symptoms. This method could actually do more harm than good. Regular, daily activities during the initial days of a concussion may actually be safe, not worsen symptoms and even speed up recovery.
Published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, of the 126 patients that participated in the retrospective study, those who underwent supervised exercise in the early, symptomatic stages of their concussion returned to their sport earlier (26.5 days) compared to those who didn’t (35.1 days). There was also a later return for those who initiated exercise after 16 days.
Previous research has found that the brain experiences a multitude of benefits from exercise, including:
- Increased synaptic plasticity in the brain, which helps with learning and memory.
- Increased production of brain-derived neurotrophic factors, a protein in the brain and spinal cord that promotes the survival of nerve cells.
- Increased cortical connectivity, which relates to the stimulus and neuron firing pattern in brain response.
But just as noteworthy are the mental health benefits.