Raised awareness of the frequency of concussions among young people, particularly athletes, and the importance of treating them properly has led to a growing amount of scientific research on the subject. A particular focus of attention has been the best way to treat people in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic brain injury. Athletes, of course, should be removed from a game immediately, but the longer-term question of treatment during the days following an accident has received less attention.
According to a recent article in the New York Times new research is questioning one commonly recommended post-TBI treatment technique. Known as “cocoon therapy” the procedure, according to the newspaper, “entails mostly lying in a dark room for multiple days.” The Times reports that a new study suggests that among children “resting for longer than 24 to 48 hours is not beneficial for most young patients.”
“More isn’t always better,” the paper quotes a doctor at UCLA saying. “There was no advantage to prolonged rest.” It adds that this was not the conclusion the researchers expected to find when they set up the clinical trial. Instead, the study “found that the patients advised to rest for five days reported more physical symptoms like headache and nausea in the first few days, and more often experienced emotional symptoms like irritability and sadness over 10 days… The available evidence suggests that young patients with a concussion should rest away from school and work for the first 24 to 48 hours, experts said.”
One study, of course, is far from definitive in the medical world. As a Portland TBI lawyer I do, however, think it is important for all of us to see and analyze these results in their broader context. The mere fact that the study took place is only the latest sign that American popular culture is finally taking youth TBI seriously. As I have noted in many previous blogs we still have too many coaches at all levels of sports will tell kids to ‘shake off’ a potentially serious injury. League rules, public pressure and a growing awareness of the seriousness of youth TBI are beginning to change that. It is a lengthy – probably generational – process, but one we all need to continue to advocate for. In the meantime we also should not lose sight of the fact that research like this, though often driven by sports, has important lessons for people recovering car, motorcycle or bike accidents, falls and many other head or brain injuries far removed from the playing field. It is important information for both doctors and Oregon families to keep in mind, because most TBI injuries take place far from the playing field.
The New York Times: Limiting Rest is Found to Help Young Concussion Patients