Sidelined By Concussion: Rethinking The Restful Approach To Recovery
Among the many challenges to providing proper post-concussion assessment and treatment, such as a lack of biomarker for concussion, no imaging technique to fully diagnose the injury, and the numerous “neuro-mythologies” surrounding it, one of the hardest hurdles to overcome is debunking the myths surrounding concussion.
And what is the biggest myth surrounding concussion? That rest and inactivity are the only road to recovery. While rest and refraining from certain activities may be part of the equation, we know that the best form of recovery is active treatment.
Not A One Size Fits All Injury
What’s bad for one concussion patient may be good for another – it just depends on the trajectory of their injury. Patients who experience anxiety and worry post-concussion could potentially benefit from activity, while those who are experiencing vestibular issues might need to follow a modified approach to activity.
For a patient who is experiencing ocular issues, physical activity may be good, but activities like focusing on schoolwork or a computer screen for too long could be detrimental. The easiest way to look at it is, whatever the activity (or inactivity), it has to be deliberately prescribed for each individual, based on their specific injury and symptoms.
Sleep vs. Rest
After the initial injury that results in concussion, it’s not uncommon for parents to be concerned about their child falling asleep. In actuality, a good night’s sleep is beneficial for recovery. However, excessive sleep in the days following the injury is a symptom that should be discussed with your healthcare providers.
Mood Management And Depression
One of the lesser -known symptoms of concussion is change in mood, including feelings of depression, anxiety, or even feeling hopeless post injury. Though these anxiety/mood issues aren’t uncommon, it is important to ensure that patients don’t retreat within themselves. In instances such as these, urging the patient to partake in certain activities may prove beneficial, as opposed to encouraging rest and allowing them to remain closed off from the outside world.
Conditioning Is Key
Much like a physical injury, sustaining a brain injury – even a mild one – requires that the patient be symptom-free in order to return to full activity. And, sometimes in order to accomplish that, a more active treatment plan is required. Though it may be difficult at times, just as it is for an individual recovering from surgery or other injuries, post-concussion patients may also need to gradually “work through” discomfort in order to make progress.
The important thing to remember is that any activity should be prescribed for your specific injury by an experienced concussion clinician, and that when it comes to concussion recovery, just like the old adage says, “Patience is a virtue.”