Physical exercise is widely accepted as one of the best ways to stay healthy, and there may be another one. A systematic review found that physical exercise has clear benefits in concussion recovery.
Currently, most physicians and websites say that rest is the most treatment post-concussion. Indeed, most athletes must go through a series of graded steps, starting from complete rest to light activity, before being able to return to play. Patients are commonly scored on Post Concussion Symptom Scale (PCSS) to evaluate symptom severity, but many seek a more active way to minimize their downtime and accelerate recovery. A recent meta-analysis examined 14 studies on the effect of physical exercise postconcussion. The review, published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine, took the average of each study’s PCSS scores to determine if physical activity had any effect on recovery or symptom severity. They found “clear benefits of physical exercise in decreasing PCSS score, percentage of people with symptoms of a concussion, and duration of symptoms… without affecting balance and neuropsychological functions”. They did not examine the mechanism behind why exercise caused these effects but suggested that exercise may increase cerebral blood flow and brain metabolism, which is reduced following a concussion. Another possible explanation is that exercise may help make the person feel less lonely and depressed, contributing towards a decreased PCSS score. Perhaps a combination of rest, physical exercise and constant social interaction is the perfect balance for a fast recovery from a concussion.
The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 2017. DOI: 10.1177/0363546517706137