New guideline reduces rest recommendation for children with concussions
Ryan Flanagan, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, March 11, 2019 2:35PM EDT
Canadian researchers have developed a new guideline outlining how much rest children need while recovering from concussions.
The guideline, which was released Monday, reduces the amount of required rest. Researcher Carol DeMatteo says it is also easier to follow than previous guidelines, which parents had complained about as being excessively complicated.
“We now know that too much rest after concussion is not a good thing, and children can begin some activity sooner as long as they don’t overdo it and make their symptoms worse,” she said in a statement.
The guideline starts out with no more than five minutes of activity at a time during the first 24 hours after a concussion. Parents should also limit screen time and reading time of children in this stage, while encouraging simple tasks such as making the bed and talking on the phone.
There are different guidelines for helping children progress toward returning to school and returning to sports and other physical activities.
It is recommended that children not return to school until they are able to concentrate on cognitive tasks for 30 minutes without their symptoms worsening. Once they do return to school, they should gradually move toward full-day attendance rather than return to full days immediately.
Children who have returned to school and want to start playing sports again are given a similar recommendation to ramp up their activity. The guideline suggests that children who are symptom-free within 48 hours of suffering a concussion can return to full physical activity in under a week, while children who display symptoms for several weeks may need another month or more to get through the progression.
Also recommended is that children recovering from concussions get eight to 10 hours of sleep a night, drink plenty of water and avoid skipping meals.
Common concussion symptoms can include headaches, dizziness, balance issues, light or noise sensitivity and difficulty concentrating. The guideline notes that children recovering from concussions are also at higher than normal risk for anxiety and depression.
DeMatteo likened children recovering from concussions to pieces moving around the board game Snakes and Ladders.
“There are times where they may have rapid improvement and climb through the steps more quickly, and other times where returning symptoms mean they have to take a slide back,” she said.
The guideline was developed by a team from CanChild at McMaster University in Hamilton.
By some estimates, at least 250,000 children in Canada receive concussions in a typical year. According to DeMatteo, the most common sports resulting in concussions for Canadian children are hockey for boys and soccer for girls.