Docs Say Kids With Concussions Don't Have To Stay In The Dark For Days : Shots - Health News No longer do kids with concussions need to sit in dark rooms for days on end. For the first time in nearly a decade, the nation's pediatricians have loosened their guidance on concussion recovery.

Kids With Concussions Can Phase In Exercise, Screen Time Sooner Than Before

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Every year, more than 1 million children and teenagers sustain a concussion from sports or play. Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics have issued new guidelines on how to treat kids with concussions. Maanvi Singh reports on the new approach.

MAANVI SINGH, BYLINE: For 8-year-old Liam Ramsay-Leavitt of Martinez, Calif., it happened a couple of weeks ago at school.

LIAM RAMSAY-LEAVITT: I was, like, swinging on the monkey bars, and then I just fell on my side.

SINGH: And then he felt dizzy, and he had an achy head. At the hospital, the doctor told his mom she should probably keep him out of school for at least a week.

LIAM: It was, like, really boring, and I couldn't do much.

SINGH: No video games, no exercise, no chess club.

LIAM: Boring and disappointing.

SINGH: His doctor was following what has been the conventional wisdom on treating concussions. Parents were told to keep kids in the dark, away from screens and away from school - away from anything that exerted their minds and bodies. But now researchers think that could make things worse. Kids can end up feeling isolated and extra anxious.

ANGELA LUMBA-BROWN: Play and physical activity are like water and sunlight to their brains.

SINGH: That's Angela Lumba-Brown, co-director of Stanford's Concussion and Brain Performance Center. She led the CDC's effort to rewrite recommendations.

LUMBA-BROWN: Children should actually return to their activities after just two to three days of rest as they need it.

SINGH: This new approach reflects the latest research. Mark Halstead of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis worked on both the CDC and AAP guidelines.

MARK HALSTEAD: Kids who actually were back to school after a day or two with adjustments to their school day and their school workload actually got much better and better quicker than the kids that were actually kept at home for five days and told to do nothing.

SINGH: Intense contact sports are a no-go, but light exercise is OK.

HALSTEAD: Maybe some brisk walking or some light work on an exercise bike.

SINGH: Everything in moderation, including electronics use. It was discouraged before. The new guides say it's OK as long as it doesn't make headaches worse.

HALSTEAD: That's kind of the point that we try to get across with the updated statement, is that we don't need to go to extremes over everything.

SINGH: For Liam's mom, Michelle Ramsay-Leavitt, the new approach feels right.

MICHELLE RAMSAY-LEAVITT: Especially in this day and age of when they're like - you know, they're on devices, and they're going from activity to activity.

SINGH: After three days of rest, she sensed Liam was ready to ease back into school. And with the doctor's blessing, he did.

For NPR News, I'm Maanvi Singh.

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