A study on concussions and teenagers conducted by University at Buffalo researchers began in late 2015 and will continue through at least the end of 2016. Researchers are looking for a sample size of about 100 high school athletes. Julia Whipple’s participation began with her diagnosis of a concussion after a concussion on the soccer field. She was given a watch which would monitor her activity. She could not do any strenuous workouts but neither was she prescribed total rest. Whipple walked on a treadmill every day for 20 minutes. She walked very slowly. Her heart rate could not go above 100 beats per minute. The prevailing philosophy on concussion recovery focuses on rest – no activity until the symptoms resolve. The study is examining the idea that low-level exercise, such as walking on a treadmill, helps the brain recover better than simple rest.
“The more common risk is that the athlete would do too much exercise too soon and exacerbate symptoms,” Dr. John Leddy said. “That’s why we give them very specific instructions about what to do and how to progress the exercise. They wear a heart rate monitor. They are instructed to stop exercise that day if their symptoms increase. They can resume the next day.” While both were back playing after three weeks, individual recovery can vary. Leddy said he knows of no cases where the symptoms became worse with this approach, provided that the protocol was done correctly.