Why do healthcare providers tell their patients to rest after a concussion? Physical and cognitive rest in the first 24-48 hours after a concussion is thought to allow the brain to recover and restore its normal function, as well as improve recovery from concussion symptoms. Resting is not the easiest thing to do. Even when we think we are resting, we are often reaching for our phone, the TV remote, a book to read, or a video game to play. It can be hard to know what to do while resting after a concussion. The good news is that strict rest is usually only recommended for a short period of time. Gradual return to activity is then encouraged as long as symptoms remain mild and continue to improve. With that in mind, you can use your time of rest wisely!
Strategies to Help You Rest after a Concussion
- Take time off work or school. Even though this may be difficult, using some vacation or sick time for a couple of days to allow symptoms to calm down is worth it! If you are a student, teachers and school administrators are generally understanding regarding the importance of brain rest immediately following a concussion. Ask them to work with you for a smooth transition back to school.
- Focus on the basics. Getting sleep, eating healthy food, and focusing on keeping up with adequate water intake is a great way to spend your rest days. Your body is healing and you can help it along by giving it the right amount of rest, fuel, and hydration!
- Watch out for your usual entertainment activities. Often scrolling on your phone, using your computer, playing video games, watching TV, and reading will trigger symptoms initially after a concussion and should be avoided. Try to avoid any physical or cognitive strain with the activities you choose. With any activity you attempt during this initial rest period, monitor how you feel and if symptoms are increasing during or after the activity you should stop the activity and rest.
- Keep chores light. Work on performing one easy chore at a time instead of multi-tasking, and if you have any increase in symptoms stop the activity and rest. The more difficult chores you have on your to do list can wait until you have recovered.
- Stay in touch with your physician. Your physician should closely monitor your recovery. As symptoms improve, you can work together to gradually add activities back into your routine. Getting back to being active again is another important step in your recovery!
More Resources about Resting after a Concussion
If you would like to learn more about rest and recovery after a concussion, check out these articles:
- An article by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/recovery.html
- An article from the Cleveland Clinic: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/suspect-a-concussion-how-to-help-not-hurt-your-recovery/
For information about concussions, check out our last blog post:
*Rest, painting by Marc Chagall, 1975