Up until recently, doctors would prescribe a healthy dose of R&R after a patient experiences a concussion. But new studies suggest that participating in aerobic and cognitive exercises 48 hours after a head injury can speed up recovery. It can even cure post-concussion syndrome.
Post-concussion syndrome happens when concussion symptoms don’t improve beyond the expected recovery period after the initial injury. Depending on the severity of the concussion, it can take weeks or many months to recover from the injury, but some patients don’t get better.
That doesn’t mean patients can’t improve the symptoms of post-concussion syndrome, like headaches, focus issues, and dizziness, with the help of a doctor. If your symptoms persist, search using the keywords “concussion doctor near me” on Google to find a practitioner.
Concussions are caused due to a direct blow to the head, whiplash, or jostling of the brain. When the brain makes direct contact with the skull, it causes swelling and inflammation. During recovery, this swelling makes it difficult for your brain to communicate important information.
By taking the steps to improve your mental and physical health, your brain starts to recover from the traumatic injury. However, your brain needs the right push to recover via its innate healing ability. This is called “neuroplasticity,” a process that allows the brain to learn new things.
When you perform an exercise, a cascade of chemicals will rush to your brain. Called the post-exercise cognitive boost, this is the time when you’re able to retain the most information.
If your doctor allows it, perform a set of aerobic exercises (cardio, like running or dancing) for 30 minutes before starting a cognitive exercise. Make sure you’re getting your heart rate up. After your 10-minute cool-down, spend 30 minutes to an hour participating in a cognitive exercise.
If you’re suffering from post-concussion syndrome, there are dozens of cognitive exercises you can perform that’ll help improve your symptoms. Keep in mind that the exercises on this list may have varying rules depending on your country or the app you’re using (if you’re playing online).
Here are 15 cognitive exercises we recommend performing by yourself or with a friend:
- Boggle: Write down as many unique words as possible before the timer runs out.
- Set: A game that asks you to group shapes based on four characteristics.
- Tangrams: A game where you try to make an image using multiple shapes.
- Hart Chart: A decoding game that uses coordinates to find letters in an empty spot.
- Rush Hour: A puzzle game where you move cars to help your vehicle leave the area.
- Hearthstone: A collectible card game where you build decks and challenge players.
- Logic Puzzles: Groups of puzzles that require logic and clues to solve them.
- Word Stories: A game that helps you create a story with four random words.
- Scattergories: A timed game that asks you to write down words based on a letter.
- Four-Letter Word: Players guess a four-letter word based on various clues.
- Taboo: A game where you describe a word creatively in hopes of a correct guess.
- Hanabi: A Japanese card game that requires you to group hands and steal cards.
- Sentence Rearrangement: Rearrange a sentence alphabetically or backward.
- Bananagrams: Similar to Scrabble, but players don’t wait to take their turn.
- Codenames: A game where teams try to guess a code word using clues.
All of the games above help you improve your attention, language skills, executive functioning, processing speed, memory, and vision, all of which will help you recover from head trauma.