How Much Rest is Enough Rest After a TBI?

Honest self-reporting of symptoms is crucial when recovering from a TBI.

All clinical medicine is based on the self-report of your symptoms. "I have a pain someplace. It's not going away. This sore doesn't heal." Your symptoms are basically the lexicon of what ails you. So you have to be able to rely on that self-report. Now, are some folks going to under-report in order to go back in the game? Well, yeah. But then Mom needs to be aware that that's an issue with Johnny and take that into account and say, "Well, Johnny is fine. I'm going to keep him out another week, because I think Johnny really wants to play, and I'm concerned that he doesn't get hit again." You know when a child can return to play, I think, when you see the child is no longer symptomatic. So there's not excessive fatigue. You see that the child isn't having difficulty remembering things. There's no headache. Things like that. The overt signs that you would see initially have dissipated. I think--you know--as with many things, what we see now is that people are going to the other extreme. So we know that when you've been injured, one of the things that you need to do is you need to rest. Rest is restorative. So, no video games--shall we say, no excessive video games and the like. And no long periods of watching TV. You don't want to basically be straining the brain. But you now see that kids are being kept out of school for excessive periods of time because nobody knows how much rest is rest. How much rest should we have? Nobody knows the answer to this. Nobody knows how many days a child should stay home after being concussed. So to me the guideline really should be when the child feels like him or herself. Then you basically look at that, well, let's wait another day or two, and then you can go back. Now would I say, "Go back to contact sports" right away? I would probably say, "Let's hold off for a while."
Posted on BrainLine March 15, 2011.

Produced by Noel Gunther, Ashley Gilleland, Victoria Tilney McDonough, and Brian King.

About the author: Wayne Gordon, PhD

Wayne Gordon, PhD, ABPP/Cn, is the Jack Nash Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine and associate director of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He is a neuropsychologist and the director of the Mount Sinai Brain Injury Research Center.

Dr. Wayne Gordon