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Activity cuts impact of concussion: study

AAP logoAAP 21/12/2016 Sarah Wiedersehn

Strict rest beyond the first 24 hours after a concussion may not be the best medicine for kids, according to a Canadian study that challenges the idea that physical activity should be avoided until symptoms disappear.

The researchers say it's still important for kids to be sidelined immediately after a concussion but suggest total avoidance of activity for an extended period of time may actually delay a full recovery.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found physical activity within seven days of a child or adolescent being injured was associated with reduced risk of persistent post-concussive symptoms at 28 days compared to those who were inactive.

Activity was mostly light exercise including walking and swimming.

The cohort study of more than 3000 children and adolescents aged five to 17 showed the proportion of people with three or more concussion symptoms reduced from 80 per cent to 48 per cent if they participated in light aerobic exercise.

One third were found to be symptom free.

The authors of the research paper say their findings suggest a bit of physical exercise within seven days of a bonk to the head can help stop the symptoms of concussion.

The Sydney Children's Hospitals Networks says the most important treatment for a head injury is complete rest both physically and mentally.

Children and adolescents should not exercise, use computer screens, and play video games or study for at least 24 hours.

It's recommended a gradual and staged return to school and sporting activities should be planned.

WHEN TO TAKE CHILD TO EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT

* Signs or symptoms appear or are getting worse in the first 48 hours after a head injury

* Losing consciousness (even briefly)

* Seizure

* New headache or headache is getting worse

* Ongoing or worse neck pain

* Nausea or vomiting

* Becoming drowsy or can't be woken up

* Having any trouble walking

* Blurry or double vision

* Weakness, numbness or tingling in the arms, legs or face

* Slurred speech

* Being more confused, unusual behaviour, more irritable

(Source: https://www.schn.health.nsw.gov.au/parents-and-carers/fact-sheets/concussion-and-mild-head-injury)

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