People who have been diagnosed with a concussion require both physical and cognitive rest. Not following medical provider orders for rest can significantly prolong recovery from a concussion. A medical provider’s orders to avoid cognitive and physical activity after a concussion should be strictly followed at home, school, and work. Return to those activities should be slow and gradual.
Additionally, children are at increased risk for delayed recovery as well as severe, permanent disability (e.g., early dementia, also known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy), or even death if they sustain another concussion before fully recovering from the first concussion.
Therefore, it is imperative that an individual is fully recovered before resuming activities that may result in another concussion. Best practice warrants that, whenever there is a question of safety, a medical professional err on the side of caution and hold an athlete out for a game, the remainder of the season, or even a full year.
What Is Cognitive Rest?
Cognitive rest requires that the student avoid participation in or exposure to activities that require concentration or mental stimulation including, but not limited to:
Playing computer and video games
Reading or writing
Studying or doing homework
Taking a test or completing significant projects
Listening to loud music
Exposure to bright lights
What Is Physical Rest?
Physical rest includes getting adequate sleep, taking frequent rest periods or naps, and avoiding physical activity that requires exertion. Some activities that should be avoided include, but are not limited to:
Those that result in contact and collision and are high risk for re-injury
High-speed and/or high-intensity exercise and/or sports
Any activity that results in an increased heart rate or increased head pressure (e.g., straining or strength training)