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John J. Leddy, MD

John J. Leddy, MD, is leading a study on adolescent concussion patients utilizing moderate exercise instead of rest to better promote recovery.

Study Could Revolutionize Concussion Treatment

Published February 1, 2016

John J. Leddy, MD, clinical professor of orthopaedics, is conducting a study emphasizing moderate exercise that may dramatically alter the standard of care for acute concussion.

“Until recently, the standard of care in concussion has been to tell individuals who have suffered concussions to go home and rest until the symptoms go away. Our research has demonstrated that some activity is actually necessary to promote recovery.”
Clinical professor of orthopaedics

Proactive Approach Emphasized

“Until recently, the standard of care in concussion has been to tell individuals who have suffered concussions to go home and rest until the symptoms go away,” says Leddy, medical director of the UB Concussion Management Clinic. “Our research has demonstrated that some activity is actually necessary to promote recovery.”

“We treat concussion rather than do nothing. We take a proactive approach to concussion,” Leddy says.

The goal of the trial, which focuses solely on adolescents, is to evaluate for the first time a treatment protocol for concussion.

The study will test the exercise treatment on any 13- to 17-year-old adolescent who has experienced a concussion, whether or not it was the result of sports participation.

Moderation is Key in Exercise Regimen

Researchers have not yet identified at what point activity becomes detrimental, but they know there is a tipping point.

“We know that activity helps to speed recovery, but we also know too much activity prevents it,” explains Barry S. Willer, PhD, director of research for the UB Concussion Management Clinic and professor of psychiatry, who coordinates the research study design.

“A major goal of our research is to determine how much activity, and what activity, is best,” Willer says.

Adolescents Are Most Vulnerable Age Group

Leddy says the study focuses on adolescents because they are the most vulnerable age group for concussions, and they take the longest to recover.

Julia Whipple, a 16-year-old honors student at Hamburg High School, was one of the first to enroll and successfully complete the trial. A soccer goalie, she was injured when she collided head-on with an opponent.

“When I heard that I would be allowed to continue with some exercise while I recovered, I was excited,” she says. “I didn’t want to just go home to my bedroom and wait for symptoms to disappear.”

Her mother, Christina, adds, “We were pleased to see Julia recover as quickly as she did. We were also more confident knowing that the UB Concussion Management Clinic is such a leader in research on concussion.”

Study Funded by Ralph C. Wilson Foundation

Funded by the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation and the Program for Understanding Childhood Concussion and Stroke, the study is being conducted by physicians at UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine.

Along with Leddy, a physician with UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, and Willer, Andrea Hinds, PhD, research assistant in the Department of Psychiatry, is a co-investigator on the study.