No rest for the concussed
Q&A: Concussions now being treated through exercise, not relaxation
It is with great deal of conventional logic that modern consensus has said anyone suffering from a concussion must rest and refrain from physical activity. That is, up until fairly recently. Studies since the mid-2000s have shown that a controlled amount of exercise can aid anyone suffering from prolonged symptoms postconcussion.
Jim Bovard, longtime sports physician and member of the board of director at SportsMed BC — as well as chief medical officer of the Vancouver Whitecaps — has seen the benefits of that approach among patients at his own North Vancouver clinic.
There used to be this traditional approach, especially in sports, Bovard said, “when your bells get rung, you suck it up and get back in the game.”
He continues, the “full-rest” recovery method gained speed as a type of counter-reaction to that culture.
Now, we’re seeing another shift: exercise for rehabilitation. He tells us more on the growing trend.
Q When did doctors start to realize just rest for “full recovery”was counterproductive?
A Initially (rest) wasn’t the treatment. People were going back (to exercise) earlier. As people stared following that (rest regiment), we realized there that were people who were starting to take longer to get better.
Before (the consensus on rest) people did various thing. When that became a mantra, it about seven years ago we all started to notice side-effects of that extreme approach and started to take different measures.
Q What exactly is exercise rehabilitation?
A It starts with, the first time, going for about a 10-minute easy workout.
Just spin easy. Just getting the heart rate up a little bit. If their concussion is still fragile, that will be enough to start giving them some symptoms. If that’s fine, the next day, they can then start doing a little more. That’s the first steps that are followed after you become symptom-free, all we’ve done differently is introduce that before they come symptom-free.
Q Who does exercise rehab work best on?
A Pretty much anybody that’s had a concussion … The term I would use, it’s like the therapeutic trial for an intervention. I’ll tell them, ‘let’s try this, if it doesn’t work, we’ll shut it down. If it does, we’ll progress along.’”