How Can I Help Myself Recover from a Brain Injury?
There are a number of self-care techniques you can use to help your brain heal.
First and foremost, you should protect yourself from injuring your brain again. People who have had repeated injuries to their brain (like professional football players) may experience serious long-term problems and, in rare cases, it can cause brain swelling and even death.
10 Ways to Help Your Brain Heal
- Get plenty of sleep at night, and rest during the day
- Increase your activity slowly
- Write down the things that may be harder than usual for you to remember
- Avoid alcohol, drugs and caffeine
- Eat brain-healthy foods
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water
- Ask your doctor when it’s okay for you to drive a car, ride a bike, or operate machinery
- Avoid activities that are physically demanding (sports, and housework, for example)
- Avoid activities that require a lot of thinking or concentration (like playing video games or balancing a checkbook)
- Be patient because healing takes time
Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t have to be in a car accident or get concussed on a football field to actually injure your brain. A brain injury may also result from a sports injury or a knock to the head from a seemingly innocuous fall.
Brain injuries can also occur from the sudden, jarring movement of the head and neck (like whiplash).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 2.5 million traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) occur each year in the United States, in addition to hundreds of thousands of unreported incidents of head trauma, including undiagnosed concussions.
You Really Aren’t Hard Headed, So Be More Careful
Your brain is not a hard, fixed substance- it is like soft butter in consistency, composed of millions of fine nerve fibers. Your brain “floats” in fluids within a hard, bony skull containing multiple sharp ridges.
Often, brain injuries that don’t result in a loss of consciousness go unnoticed and are never treated. Unfortunately, research shows that undiagnosed brain injuries are a major cause of anxiety and depression, drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, ADD/ADHD, and suicide.
Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Brain injury symptoms often include:
- Cognitive changes – poor concentration, memory problems, learning issues, poor judgment and impulsivity, and difficulty putting thoughts into words.
- Physical complaints – dizziness, fatigue, headaches, visual disturbances, trouble sleeping, sensitivity to light and sound, poor balance.
- Psychosocial concerns – depression, anger outbursts, irritability, personality changes, anxiety.
Symptoms can last for hours, days, weeks, months or longer. Ignoring your indicators and trying to “tough it out” with any brain injury can often makes symptom worse.
Prevention is the Best Option for Brain Health
To help keep your brain safe and prevent TBI:
- Wear a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle.
- Always buckle your child into a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt (according to the child’s height, weight, and age) in the car.
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications that can impair the ability to drive.
- Avoid high risk sports and activities where you can hit your head.
- Always wear a helmet and make sure your children wear helmets during contact sports, bike riding, horseback riding, skateboarding, snowmobiling, skiing or snowboarding.
- Do not dive in water less than 12 feet deep or in above-ground pools. Check the depth and check for debris in the water before diving.