Most of us try to avoid getting smacked in the head, but for athletes concussions are a fairly common injury. The damage from a concussion—a mild brain injury that causes dizziness and pain—is usually temporary, says the Mayo Clinic, but can cause problems with “concentration, memory, judgment, balance and coordination.” And, though concussions seem mild, repeated concussions are an incredibly serious health risk.
Recovering from a concussion can take months. But a team of researchers have found a way to cut that time in half. Writing in the journal Pediatrics, the scientists describe how people who took it easy in the wake of their concussion—abstaining from any taxing mental activity—recovered much more quickly. Based on their research, the scientists advise that people who've suffered a concussion should take a little mental breather. The CBC:
For the first three to five days after a concussion, Meehan said doctors recommend patients stay away from activities that involve memory or concentration. After that, students should resume some cognitive activity and start with taking fewer courses and delaying high-stake tests that account for a large part of their grade.
“What we usually tell them is do as much school work as you can without making your symptoms worse and without your grades dropping,” he said.
“It’s a hard balance to strike, both for the students as well as the school.”
Getting out of that big test because you took a hard hit in your hockey game maybe isn't the worst thing in the world. But the scientists' ban on cognitive activity doesn't just include things like homework—video games, reading, and text messaging are out, too.
This recommendation makes some instinctual sense: if you injure your arm, you should go easy on it for awhile; why shouldn't the same logic apply to your brain? More from Smithsonian.com:
Four Months After a Concussion, Your Brain Still Looks Different Than Before
Five Kid Concussions in One Game Have Parents Questioning Pop Warner Football
Hockey Players Sue League For Failing to Address Head Injuries
New Study: NFL Players May Be More Likely to Die of Degenerative Brain Diseases