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Concussions: Rest vs Exercise

Concussions are a relatively common injury, particularly in adolescents playing contact sports. A recent study found that nearly 20% of surveyed adolescents have had a concussion in their lifetime. Participation in a contact sport increases the odds of having multiple concussions in a lifetime.

A concussion is a brain injury caused by shear forces on the brain as is moves back and forth within the skull. Common symptoms of concussion include headaches, neck pain, dizziness, blurry vision, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, and impaired balance. Physical therapy treatment is necessary following a concussion to promote full recovery. By not receiving treatment, patients with concussion may be more prone to reinjury and/or living with persistent symptoms unnecessarily.

Our understanding of concussions and the best treatment approaches is continually changing as more research is done. Recent studies have shown new evidence for exercise versus rest following a concussion. Patient who engaged in physical activity in the first 10 days following their concussion had a better reduction in post-concussion symptoms and less duration of symptoms compared to those who engaged in strict rest. It is important that this physical exercise is appropriately prescribed to achieve these beneficial effects without exacerbating symptoms (patients should not be playing their contact sport). That being said, complete resolution of symptoms is not necessarily an indicator that it is appropriate to return to sport. Testing performed by physical therapists or other medical professionals are needed to determine this.

In the past it has been common practice to promote rest following a concussion but the research is now showing that this may be detrimental to healing. If you or someone you know has recently had a concussion, it's time to come see a physical therapist to get you on the road to recovery with the appropriate level of exercise!

If you are suffering from a concussion or would like our professional advice, give us a call at 303 666 4151 or

Happy Healing!

Stephanie Branchaud PT, DPT


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