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A Closer Look at the Correlation Between Screen Time and Recovery after a Concussion Episode

Some Screentime on Smartphones May Help Faster Recovery After Concussion Head Injury in Children, Studies Show!


Head Injury and Screen time
Photo created by author using Wonder.

A concussion is among the most significant healthcare problems, particularly among young children. This preventable traumatic brain injury occurs due to a sudden head blow, bump, or jolt, initiating several signs and symptoms. During the concussion brain's rapid movement inside the skull asserts trauma to the brain, thus triggering abnormal chemical and physical consequences. Concussion signs and symptoms comprise transient, possibly long-lasting memory loss, confusion, clumsiness, disorientation, and loss of consciousness. The concussion victim often shows mood, behavior, or personality changes after the event that can last for a long time. Concussion among children (8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders) is more common than most people realize. Based on a report published by Jama Network in 2021, 19.5% of US adolescents reported having suffered at least one concussion in their lifetime. Still, the information points to lower concussion self-reporting among Latinos and the Black population. Current recommendations during the recovery process for children with a concussion is primarily making short-term modification in the child's daily routine until they can return to normal. Thus parents must monitor and adjust their child's activities based on their unique symptoms.

The Role of Screen Time in Child's Recovery After Concussion

Screen time refers to the time one spends using a device, typically a Smartphone, Laptop, Tablet, Desktop Computer, or TV. Some scholars have found a close correlation between screen time and the child's recovery after a concussion episode. That is how the patient recuperates from associated mental and physical harm. Even in the absence of traumatic head injury and concussion, some administrations worldwide have developed a set of restrictions and guidelines on how much children should spend in front of the screen. These guidelines help parents to gradually tighten and slack the Screen Time restrictions for their child based on their unique symptoms and signs. Some recent recommendations direct restricting children after concussion episodes to 1 to 2 days before gradual resumption as tolerated based on screen time activity. On the other hand, another group bases gradual return purely within the context of return to school strategies.

A 2021 JAMA Pediatrics publication indicated that avoiding screen time during concussion recovery may shorten the duration of symptoms.

According to another group of experts, subjecting a child after a concussion to Cocooning or complete cognitive rest might also negatively affect their recovery. They believe entirely isolating the child from the screen may carry negative consequences. Indeed, social isolation and its associated psychological distress are deterrents to a child's well-being. A study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests Children and adolescents recovering from concussions did so faster when moderately engaged in screen time. In general, most of the new findings point out that some screen time for children with concussions may be better than complete restriction because cocooning has its particular downfalls that may slow the recovery process. On the positive side, current recommendations advocate short spurs of frequent screen time coupled with parental and social support.


References

  1. Macnow, Theodore, et al. "Effect of Screen Time on Recovery From Concussion: A Randomized Clinical Trial." JAMA Pediatrics vol. 175,11 (2021): 1124–1131. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2021.2782

  2. Concussion Signs and Symptoms | HEADS UP | CDC Injury Center [WWW Document], 2019. Concussion Signs and Symptoms | HEADS UP | CDC Injury Center. URL https://www.cdc.gov/headsup/basics/concussion_symptoms.html (accessed 1.27.23).

  3. Veliz, P., McCabe, S.E., Eckner, J.T., Schulenberg, J.E., 2021. Trends in the Prevalence of Concussion Reported by US Adolescents, 2016–2020 [WWW Document]. Trends in the Prevalence of Concussion Reported by US Adolescents, 2016–2020 | Adolescent Medicine | JAMA | JAMA Network. URL https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2779560 (accessed 1.27.23).

  4. Cairncross, M., Yeates, K.O., Tang, K., Madigan, S., Beauchamp, M.H., Craig, W., Doan, Q., Zemek, R., Kowalski, K., Silverberg, N.D., of the Pediatric Emergency Research Canada A-CAP study team, on behalf, 2022. Early Postinjury Screen Time and Concussion Recovery [WWW Document]. American Academy of Pediatrics. URL /pediatrics/article/150/5/e2022056835/189740/Early-Postinjury-Screen-Time-and-Concussion (accessed 1.27.23).

  5. Screen Time May Help Concussion Recovery [WWW Document], n.d. WebMD. URL https://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20221117/screen-time-may-help-concussion-recovery (accessed 1.27.23).

  6. Some screen time is better than none during children's concussion recovery [WWW Document], 2022. News. URL https://ucalgary.ca/news/some-screen-time-better-none-during-childrens-concussion-recovery (accessed 1.27.23).

  7. Baisas, L., 2022. Children with concussions might benefit from short screen time spurts [WWW Document]. Popular Science. URL https://www.popsci.com/health/screen-time-kids-concussion/ (accessed 1.27.23).


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