November 17, 2022 – Experts recommend that children and teens who have had a concussion rest for a day or two before returning to light physical activity. Research has shown that slowly returning to normal helps young patients recover faster than strict rest.
Now a New study It is suggested that returning to TikTok and Snapchat may also help.
After surveying 700 patients between the ages of 8 and 16 years after the injury, researchers from the University of British Columbia and the University of Calgary in Canada found that children and teens with concussions recovered faster if they participated in a moderate amount of time in front of screens.
The “moderate” amount was between 2 and 7 hours a day on various screens. “This includes their phones, computers, and televisions,” says Molly Cairncross, an assistant professor at Simon Fraser University who conducted the research.
People in the study who reported less or more screen time than that in the 7 to 10 days after infection also reported more symptoms, such as headaches and fatigue, during the first month. after that month, All Participants reported similar symptoms, regardless of their early screen use – suggesting that screen time makes little difference in the long term to children’s recovery from concussions.
Results vary from Study 2021 By researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School found screen time slowed down recovery. Why the results of the engagement? “I think it comes down to differences in study design,” Cairncross says. While the previous study measured screen use in the first 48 hours, and recovery over 10 days, “we focused on screen time use during the first 7 to 10 days, and tracked recovery over 6 months,” she says.
“Together, the studies point to the need to find balance—not too little, not too much screen time for children and teens with concussions,” Cairncross says.
Ultimately, the results support moderation rather than blanket restrictions on screen time as the best way to manage concussions in children, especially after the first 48 hours.
“It’s actually unsurprising,” says Sarah Brittain, M.D., a speech-language pathologist and founder of Colorado Brain Recovery in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, who was not involved in the study. “An early return to both cognitive and physical activity in a controlled way is really important. Sitting in a darkened room and resting is not the answer and it has been refuted in the literature.”
Ancient advice involved lying in a quiet, dark room for several days, but recent evidence reveals that such “cocoon therapy” may actually prolong symptoms.
“Over time, we’ve found that this can negatively affect quality of life and depression outcomes, especially in adolescents,” says Catherine Labner, MD, a pediatric neurologist at Pediatrix Child Neurology Consultants in Austin, Texas, who was not involved in the study.
So, how can screens help? Labiner, Brittain, and Cairncross point out the importance of connection—not the online kind, but the social kind. Children and teens use smartphones and computers to stay connected with their peers, so blocking screen time can have a negative impact on mental health by causing feelings of loneliness, separation, and a lack of social support.
“Depression can prolong the course of recovery,” says Britten.
It’s worth noting that screen time may trigger visual symptoms in some patients, she says. “If someone feels bad within two minutes of being on a screen, that’s a good indication that screens aren’t working for them,” Britten says. “If being on the screen makes them dizzy or disappears completely, or the words on the screen seem to move when they don’t, then it’s time to take a step back.”
She advises parents to watch for behavioral changes such as increased crankiness, impatience and/or tiredness, which could mean a child is back in screen time — or any activity — too soon and should hold back until symptoms subside.
“The most important thing to stress about with a concussion is full recovery before a full return to activity,” says Labener.
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