Suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) can be a dreadful experience, and the path to recovery may seem long and arduous.
There is no secret cure that can immediately mitigate all the side effects; that said, recovering from a brain injury can be a more comfortable journey if you know how to handle it.
Here are 7 tips for your recovery process.
1. Get Plenty of Rest
Getting plenty of rest is key to overcoming a brain injury, particularly in the acute phase right after the injury. During this phase, doctors and neurology experts recommend 24-72 hours of rest. This means slowing all activities: work, school, sports, and even housework.
While getting rest may seem redundant after a few hours, it is crucial during this phase window.
2. Don’t Rush It
After the acute phase, a doctor may allow patients to start returning to their everyday lives slowly. However, the keyword is slowly. While it may be tempting to try and catch up on what you feel you have missed, it is recommended that you slowly ease back into things.
Avoid physically demanding activities, and above all else, avoid anything that could lead to another concussion or brain injury (don’t play in that pick-up football game down the street). Additionally, don’t start driving initially. Get your physician’s approval before you get behind the wheel of a vehicle.
During the mandated 24-72 hours of rest, and in the following month, it may be tempting to fill the time with Netflix, YouTube, or an assortment of video games. Unfortunately, spending too much time in front of a screen can be detrimental, as the flickering of these screens can cause headaches and eyestrain.
3. Handle the Financials
A chief concern among those with TBIs is how it will affect their work. Talk to your employer about returning to work gradually and what steps can be taken to aid in your recovery. Your job may look a little different for a few weeks, but after the acute phase, you should be able to work if you desire.
Additionally, does your injury require compensation, or is the insurance company denying your claims? Knowing when to hire a traumatic brain injury lawyer for a TBI can be difficult, but your wellbeing is worth it.
4. Maintain a Diet
While it may seem a no-brainer, eating a healthy diet can promote concussion recovery. Rebecca Denniss, a doctoral researcher studying micronutrients’ potential to improve cognition following TBI, has stressed the importance of proper nutrition on recovering from a brain injury.
So what kind of foods are necessary for maximum brain repair? Meat provides a good source for the essential B vitamins, vitamin D, zinc, iron, and selenium. It is also suggested that while red meat is okay, white meat such as chicken and fish is better; white meats and fish also reduce inflammation.
You can nearly get a good spread of these micronutrients from the legume family for vegetarians and vegans. However, there is a lack of B12 in legumes and should be sought after in other fruit and vegetable families.
Besides getting the proper micronutrients, eating foods rich in omega-3 (salmon, refined algae, trout, sardines, etc.) instead of omega-6 (vegetable oils) can significantly promote brain healing.
TBIs tend to come with a suite of symptoms, many of which can be counteracted by specific dietary decisions. Nausea is a significant symptom of concussions, and food made with ginger can help settle the stomach. Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water can help tackle the headaches and dizziness that tend to plague concussion patients.
Drugs and alcohol consumption should be removed from your diet until your doctor gives you the green light. Recovering from a brain injury puts your brain in a precarious position, and altering your mind’s makeup could have lasting effects.
5. Work Out Your Memory
Now that we got the body sorted, it is time to address the mind. It is not uncommon for TBI patients’ memory to be a little fuzzy during the recovery process. While annoying, it is a symptom that should pass after the first 4-6 weeks of recovery.
However, during those 4-6 weeks, living without your full facilities can seem a little daunting. Little tricks or mottos to help you remember things (PKW = phone, keys, wallet) can help reduce the stress during this time. Also, writing things down and doing one thing at a time can help limit the severity of this symptom.
Utilizing these tools will help your brain relax and de-stress, two critical components for brain and memory recovery. Stress changes how your brain functions and any stress or anxiety will heighten any recall symptoms you may have.
Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can increase hippocampus volume and decrease proactive interference. Applying these practices to your TBI recovery could provide a benefit in overcoming any recall symptoms.
6. Allow Help
Keep your family and friends involved in your recovery process; those close to you can play a significant role in your recovery, whether it’s helping you diet, aiding your memory, or providing counsel when making important decisions.
The recovery process is complicated but can be made easier with loved ones around you.
7. Recovering From a Brain Injury – Acceptance
Finally, acceptance is key to any recovery. Accepting what happened and that your life may be different for a short time can smooth many rough patches in the process. The most significant benefit of your recovery is staying patient and staying positive.
While it may seem complicated, the average recovery time for a TBI is 29.4 days, although some have had lingering symptoms for as long as six weeks.
Recovering from a brain injury is difficult, but there are tools to succeed.
To those suffering, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. For more information on recovering from TBI, reach out to your doctor about what paths might work best for you.
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