Consensus statement: An evidence-based review of exercise, rehabilitation, rest, and return to activity protocols for the treatment of concussion and mild traumatic brain injury

Arthur J. De Luigi, Kathleen R. Bell, Joe P. Bramhall, Meeryo Choe, Katherine Dec, Jonathan T. Finnoff, Mark Halstead, Stanley A. Herring, Jason Matuszak, P. B. Raksin, Jennifer Swanson, Carolyn Millett

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Early diagnosis and appropriate management of concussion/mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is critical for preventing poor outcomes and minimizing health care burden. Current clinical guidelines for concussion management focus mostly on diagnosis and return to cognitive and physical activity but provide limited guidance on the use of specific therapeutic interventions. Objective: To systematically review the available evidence on therapeutic interventions for concussion/mTBI and develop an evidence-based consensus statement on the use of these interventions in clinical practice. Literature Survey: A systematic literature search was performed first in 2018 and 2019, and again in 2022, to identify relevant original research on these interventions. A total of 6303 articles were retrieved through the systematic literature search and screened for inclusion. Eighty articles met inclusion criteria and were included in this review and consensus process. Methodology: A multispecialty panel was convened to explore management of concussion/mTBI. Interventions evaluated included rest, exercise, rehabilitation, and return to activity (RTA) protocols. Studies were assessed for relevance and methodologic quality and were voted upon to develop an evidence-based consensus statement on the therapeutic appropriateness of these interventions for concussion/mTBI. A meta-analysis was not performed. Synthesis: There was sufficient evidence to recommend exercise as an appropriate therapy for adolescents with acute concussion/mTBI. In other age groups and for other therapeutic modalities, although some studies demonstrated benefits for some of the interventions, mixed results and study limitations prevented the panel from drawing firm conclusions on the efficacy of those interventions. The panel found evidence of detrimental effects from strict rest and high-intensity physical activity. Conclusions: The panel recommended exercise as an appropriate therapy for acute concussion in adolescents. The evidence on other therapeutic interventions for concussion/mTBI remains limited to small randomized controlled trials and observational studies of moderate to low quality. The panel found no strong evidence to support or recommend against the other evaluated interventions but found most interventions to be safe when used judiciously and in consideration of individual patient needs. High-quality randomized studies with sufficient power are needed to evaluate the effects of rest, rehabilitation, and RTA protocols for the management of concussion/mTBI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1605-1642
Number of pages38
JournalPM and R
Volume15
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

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