A small study suggests that concussion recoveries may regress subtly after athletes return to exercise and activity. According to the findings, athletes who have seemingly recovered showed small worsening in specific mental activities once they stop resting and begin exercising again.
The study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, examined 19 high school athletes diagnosed with a concussion and then given medical clearance to return to physical activity. The majority of the athletes came from football, but the study also included soccer, wrestling, and volleyball players.
As HealthDay reports, the researchers saw that 12 of the athletes showed a reversal of course in a particular activity that had been improving once they were returned to activity. Specifically, the athletes showed a subtly decreased ability to walk and do simple mental tasks.
The study participants would be hard pressed to actually notice the slight decrease, but the researchers were able to detect the minute differences in lab tests where the athletes were tasked with walking and performing a basic mental task such as listening to a spoken word and identifying whether it is high or low pitch.
It is hard for anyone to tell what these findings mean, as the difference is so subtle and the study was so small. But, if later studies validify these findings it could have an impact on the way athletes are returned to play after brain injuries.