New research suggests extra bed rest might not help children recover from concussions after all.
Researchers did not observe a significant difference in balance or mental function between teens who had five days of strict bed rest and those who only rested for one or two, according to a news release. Those who rested for five days also tended to report more symptoms that lasted longer than others who participated in a shorter resting period.
"Being told to rest for five days increased your rating of physical symptoms in the first few days and increased emotional symptoms every day for the next 10 days," said lead researcher Dr. Danny Thomas, an assistant professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at The Medical College of Wisconsin. "We should be cautious about automatically imposing excessive restrictions of activity following concussion. We should follow the current guidelines, which recommend an individualized approach to concussion management."
To make their findings the researchers randomly assigned 88 patients between the ages of 11 and 22 to either one or two days of rest followed by a gradual return to regular activities or five days of strict bed rest.
"Strict rest for five days immediately after concussion did not help teenagers get better, compared to our current advice of one to two days of rest followed by a gradual return to activity," Thomas said. "We found that teenagers instructed to rest for five days actually reported more symptoms over the course of the study."
Dr. Sayed Naqvi, a pediatric neurologist at Miami Children's Hospital advises children who suffer concussions should completely refrain from physical activity for 48 hours but can participate in light mental activities such as reading or playing video games.
The findings were published in a recent edition of the journal Pediatrics.