At least not for more than a day or two, according to The International Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport recently published in the British Journal of Sport Medicine published on April 26. This is in agreement with many recent publications that have raised questions about the “Concussion Protocols” being followed in athletics from youth to professional sports. Resting for days or weeks was always considered part of the “watchful waiting” approach to recovery from concussion.
It is suggested that return to activity plays a key role in ensuring increased delivery of oxygen to the injured brain. Activity or not, the goal is to heal the brain; not to wait to see what happens.
It is well established that following even a mild blow to the head the brain can be bruised mechanically causing tissue damage such as torn neurons and disruption of blood flow, and perhaps more importantly a blow to the brain triggers a cascade of metabolic changes and inflammatory processes that can persist for weeks, months or years. Even though an individual may subjectively feel OK, and pass written tests that claim to establish “recovery,” damage to the brain can continue and put a person at increased of greater damage from succeeding concussions.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) dramatically increases oxygen deliver to the brain by diffusing oxygen throughout all of the tissues of the body. It is not dependent on delivery of oxygen by red blood cells delivered by the vascular system. Oxygen delivered in this way reduces inflammation and swelling, increased metabolic energy and nerve function, and triggers growth of new small blood vessels to the damaged tissues. HBOT is well established as a treatment for wound healing throughout the body. It should be considered a first line treatment following any concussion or traumatic brain injury.
Returning to physical activity may help oxygenate the brain and improve healing. HBOT drives this healing at a much greater rate and can offset the development of chronic, sometimes debilitating cognitive decline, persistent headaches, depression and fatigue that are characteristic of untreated concussion.