The Dangers of Resuming Normal Activity Too Soon
It’s well-known that the sooner you seek treatment for a concussion or other head injury, the more options you typically have and the better results you can generally expect. But just as important is the amount of time you take to recover. There are both physical and emotional benefits to ensuring that you take enough time to fully heal. There are also significant risks in returning to the game or to your normal activities too quickly.
The Physical Importance of Taking Enough Time to Recover
When you suffer a concussion, your brain undergoes physical changes, making it far more susceptible to cell death and serious injury from a second concussion, even one less severe than the first. When your body and brain are not fully healed, you can’t rely on the brain’s natural regulatory and healing systems to kick in and protect you. The likelihood of bleeding, brain herniation, and death go up dramatically.
The Cognitive Need for Sufficient Recovery Time
A concussion can cause problems with attention span and concentration, long-term memory, and verbal skills. Such problems require a significant amount of recovery time. If you don’t allow adequate healing time, the process can slow down or even stall.
The Emotional Benefits of Adequate Recovery Time
Concussions also have an impact on mental health and emotions, leading to anxiety, mood changes, depression, and other psychiatric and psychological conditions. Without appropriate rest, you won’t develop the tools to deal with that stress.
Potential Consequences of Insufficient Recovery Time
Studies consistently show that persons who’ve had one concussion are at greater risk of a subsequent one, and that the risk goes up if the person doesn’t take adequate time to heal from the first head injury. There’s also a much greater risk of developing a degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE causes memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, depression, anxiety, and aggression, and has been linked to higher rates of suicide, often in professional athletes who suffer head injuries.