Dr. Naomi J. Brown of the Division of Sports Medicine at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and colleagues at Children's Hospital Boston; the Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention in Waltham, Mass.; and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center conducted a study of patients who presented to a Sports Concussion Clinic within three weeks of injury between October 2009 and July 2011.
At each visit, patients completed a scale that recorded their average level of cognitive activity since the previous visit. The product of cognitive activity level and days between visits -- cognitive activity-days -- was calculated and divided into quartiles, or quarters.
Of the 335 patients involved in the study, 62 percent were male, 19 percent reported a loss of consciousness, and 37 percent reported experiencing amnesia at the time of injury. The mean age of participants was age 15, but study participants were ages 8 to 23, and 39 percent of athletes had sustained a previous concussion.
Participants reported whether they engaged in complete cognitive rest, minimal cognitive activity, or no reading or homework, and less than 20 minutes per day of online activity and video games; moderate cognitive activity, reading less than 10 pages per day, and less than 1 hour total of homework, online activity and video games; significant cognitive activity and full cognitive activity.
The study, scheduled to be published in the journal Pediatrics, found those in the highest quartile of cognitive activity took approximately 100 days on average to recover from symptoms, compared with approximately 20 to 50 days for patients in the lower three quartiles.