Washington D.C.: You may want to rest for a few days after banging your head as a new study revealed that doing so may be vital to let the brain recover and prevent lasting damage.
The Georgetown University Medical Center study in mice showed that repeated mild concussions with only a day to recover between injuries leads to mounting damage and brain inflammation that remains evident a year after injury.
Lead researcher Mark P. Burns noted that it is good news that the brain can recover from a hit if given enough time to rest and recover, but on the flip side, the researchers found that the brain does not undertake this rebalancing when impacts come too close together.
This first-of-its-kind developed a mouse model of repetitive, extremely mild concussive impacts conducted while the mouse is anesthetized. They compared the brain’s response to a single concussion with an injury received daily for 30 days and one received weekly over 30 weeks.
Mice with a single insult temporarily lose 10-15 percent of the neuronal connections in their brains, but no inflammation or cell death resulted, Burns says. With three days’ rest, all neuronal connections were restored. This neuronal response is not seen in mice with daily concussions, but the pattern is restored when a week of rest is given between each insult, Burns says.
Burns added that the findings help fill in the picture of how and when concussions and mild head trauma can lead to sustained brain damage. The study is published in the American Journal of Pathology.