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Restricting rest after concussion helps children return to normal activities

January 15, 2015

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics by a team of researchers at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) has found that limiting the amount of rest an adolescent has after concussion may help them return to normal activities sooner.

The research
was funded by MCW’s Injury Research Center and conducted at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin on patients, ages 11 to 22 years, who came to the Emergency Department for care within 24 hours of a concussion. Adolescents were randomized into two groups, one that was recommended strict rest at home for 5 days, and the other rest for 1-2 days, followed by a gradual return to activity. Both groups underwent neurocognitive, balance, and symptom assessments during follow-up.

The study found that, while there were no differences in brain function or ability to balance, being told to rest for 5 days (rather than 1-2) increased patients rating of symptoms during follow-up. Chief Investigator Danny G. Thomas, MD, MPH, assistant professor of pediatrics at MCW and an emergency medicine physician at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, explained, “In the past, we really thought that more rest was better for these kids. But this study found the children who had rested too much, took longer to return to their normal activities, and complained of more symptoms during follow-up.”

This is the first study to test the recommended rest period as an intervention to improve concussion outcomes.  While rest remains an important part of recovery, resting more than needed did help improve outcomes. Further research is needed to determine optimal recommendations for adolescents after concussion.

About Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is the region’s only independent health care system dedicated solely to the health and well-being of children. The hospital, with locations in Milwaukee and Neenah, Wis., is recognized as one of the leading pediatric health care centers in the United States. It is ranked No. 4 in the nation by Parents magazine and ranked in all 10 specialty areas in U.S. News & World Report’s 2014-15 Best Children’s Hospitals report. Children’s provides primary care, specialty care, urgent care, emergency care, community health services, foster and adoption services, child and family counseling, child advocacy services and family resource centers. In 2013, Children’s invested more than $105 million in the community to improve the health status of children through medical care, advocacy, education and pediatric medical research. Children’s achieves its mission in part through donations from individuals, corporations and foundations and is proud to be a member of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. For more information, visit the website at

About the Medical College of Wisconsin
The Medical College of Wisconsin is the state’s only private medical school and health sciences graduate school.  Founded in 1893, it is dedicated to leadership and excellence in education, patient care, research and community engagement.  More than 1,200 students are enrolled in MCW’s medical school and graduate school programs in Milwaukee.  New regional medical education campuses are scheduled to open in Green Bay in 2015, and in Central Wisconsin in 2016, with each recruiting initial classes of 20-25 students.  A major national research center, MCW is the largest research institution in the Milwaukee metro area and second largest in Wisconsin.  In FY 2013-14, faculty received approximately $154 million in external support for research, teaching, training and related purposes, of which approximately $138 million is for research.  This total includes highly competitive research and training awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  Annually, MCW faculty direct or collaborate on more than 2,000 research studies, including clinical trials. Additionally, more than 1,350 physicians provide care in virtually every specialty of medicine for more than 425,000 patients annually.
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