Does Complete Rest In a Dark Room Help or Hurt Concussion Recovery? Interview with:

Thomas A. Buckley Ed.D Assistant Professor Kinesiology & Applied Physiology 144 Human Performance Lab College of Health Sciences University of Delaware

Dr. Thomas Buckley

Thomas A. Buckley Ed.D
Assistant Professor
Kinesiology & Applied Physiology
144 Human Performance Lab
College of Health Sciences
University of Delaware What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Buckley: The most recent international consensus statement recommends 24 – 48 hours of cognitive and physical rest in the immediate aftermath of a concussion; however, our clinical experience was that patients who were “shut down” for a few days did worse than patients who were allowed to be out and about as tolerated by symptoms.  This was a retrospective study (chart review) comparing symptom reporting among patients who were shut down for 24 hours and those who were not.

The main finding of the study was the addition of a day of cognitive and physical rest (i.e., ‘shut down”) did not improve symptom recovery recovery.  In fact, we were surprised to see that the non-rest group was symptom free 1.3 days sooner than the rest group and this was statistically significant. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Buckley: In most instances, allowing a person to have light activity is probably ok following a concussion.  By no means does this mean that a patient should return to sports until they have fully recovered from their concussion and receive medical clearance from a trained health care provider, but locking a person away in a dark room and telling them to be inactive for a day post-concussion didn’t help recovery in this study. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Buckley: Limiting activity following a concussion remains the cornerstone of the medical management, but we need empirical evidence to support the specific recommendations.  If light activity is ok, we need to know what else can improve recovery.  We also don’t know the role of any or most of the common considerations which could influence the outcome – for example; gender, age, concussion history, mental health history, etc.  We need to conduct good clinical research on these outcomes to improve patient care. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Buckley: The medical management of concussion remains both an art and a science, but the most important aspect from a patient’s perspective is to be treated by a clinician who is experienced in concussion management. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Abstract presented at the April 2016 AAN meeting:

The Effectiveness of Acute PostConcussion Cognitive and Physical Rest—Thomas Buckley, Barry Munkasy, Brandy Clouse



Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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