A clinical trial investigating the effects of different treatments, including light exercise and screen time restrictions, on recovery from a sport-related concussion among adolescents has opened for enrollment at UTHealth Houston.

The study, led by Gregory Knell, PhD, assistant professor with the Center for Pediatric Population Health at UTHealth School of Public Health in Dallas, will observe patients at Children’s Health Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Plano.

“The results of our study will provide insight into how and why patients best recover from a sport-related concussion,” Knell said. “That will help us inform clinical best practices. We’ll be able to tell physicians what to recommend to patients to recover fully from the concussion so they can return to playing sports.”

Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries that result from a mild blow to the head, either with or without loss of consciousness, and can lead to temporary cognitive symptoms such as headache, confusion, memory loss, and excessive fatigue. It is common among young athletes in high-impact sports like football and soccer.

The trial comes on the heels of two others that have taken place within the last five years. The first of these studies, published in JAMA Pediatrics in 2019, found that adolescents who lightly exercised while recovering from concussions recovered better than those who simply rested without any exercise. Meanwhile, a second study published in 2021 discovered that teens who avoided screen time during concussion recovery experienced a shorter recovery period than those who were allowed screen time.

During the two-year clinical trial, Knell will test whether light exercise, reduced screen time, or a combination of both would assist best in recovery.

The study will include four randomized treatment groups that will be monitored over a three-day period. One group will be told to do 30 minutes of light exercise per day. Another group will be told to limit their screen time as much as possible. A third group will be told to both restrict their screen time and do 30 minutes of light exercise daily. The last group, the control group, will only be told to do a light stretching protocol. Using an accelerometer, researchers will track patients’ time in physical activity, sleep, and sedentary time.

Eligible participants include 12- to 17-year-olds who have suffered a sport-related concussion within the past 72 hours. Patients cannot have any co-morbid musculoskeletal injuries or be prescribed any medication that may impact their sleep.

Knell aims to recruit 313 patients for the trial, which is being funded by a $120,000 grant from the Children’s Health Foundation of Texas.

“Concussions are not to be taken lightly – there can be serious, long-term effects,” Knell said. “The science in this area is still pretty new, and we’re still learning about the best ways to treat it.”

[Source(s): University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Newswise]