North Texas

Treating Concussions With Activity

Doctors at one of the Texas Health Resources say they've seen 1,400 student athletes with concussions between August and early November at their three sports medicine centers.

They say that's slightly higher than normal but they also say new methods to treat concussions are leading to quicker recoveries.

For years, doctors treated athletes with concussions with lots of rest, allowing them to do very few activities, but research is showing that keeping them active, even with the most complex concussion, can get them back on their feet faster.

Taylor Horton received a complex concussion during volleyball practice at Navarro Junior College.

"We were scrimmaging in practice and I was diving after a ball and when I dove for it, I hit my head on the ground and collided with another girl. Her knee in the back of my head," said Horton.

Within days, nausea and headaches progressed into trouble seeing and functioning in class.

"I was confused a lot and I didn't understand and it was frustrating because I couldn't grasp concepts and my head hurt all the time," said Horton.

She came to the Ben Hogan Sports Medicine Center in Fort Worth, where doctors are using a new approach to concussion care.

Patients are put through physical rehabilitation that targets balance, vision and cognitive problems related to their concussion.

"We feel like these athletes that are shut down and don't do anything at all tend to struggle more than the ones that we allow to do a little activity and gradually increase it over time," said Dr. Damond Blueitt, sports medicine physician.

He says staying active helps keep athletes from falling into other health pitfalls, like depression.

New studies find that children who exercised within a week of getting a concussion reported fewer symptoms a month later compared to those students who didn't exercise.

Horton says it seems to be working for her.

"Now I can read and my balance is the last thing but it's getting there. I can run again," said Horton.

The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines still recommend physical and cognitive rest following a concussion until symptoms are gone both at rest and when active.

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