Recovering after a traumatic brain injury is a slow and difficult process that gets worse in direct relation to how severe the injury was. And there is no way to skip this recovery process — your brain will need time to heal, and trying to rush the process can make things worse.
However, while some degree of patience is a must, there are ways to help your brain on its recovery journey. This article will go over some tips that can potentially help speed up your recovery, or at least make sure it doesn’t last any longer than it needs to.
What is a traumatic brain injury?
Broadly defined, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused when a sudden trauma damages the brain. The most common type of brain injury is a concussion, which can be caused by impacts to the head or by sudden changes of movement, which lead to whiplash.
Concussions are often caused by falling, car accidents, and as a result of being hit by someone. Either as a direct act of violence or as a result of practicing different sports. It’s important to note that while concussions are often the result of falling, you don’t need to fall to get a concussion. Any sufficiently strong hit to the head will cause a concussion, even if the victim is still standing afterward.
Headaches, nausea, vomiting, balancing issues, confusion, and various other symptoms may occur as a result of a concussion. And concussions can be very dangerous, so if you haven’t already, make sure to go see a doctor if you believe you’ve suffered a concussion or any other type of brain injury.
Depending on the cause of the injury, it’s also wise to discuss the case with a brain injury attorney, as this website explains.
Tips to Help Your Brain Recover
1. Eat brain-healthy foods
It’s no secret that your diet has a big impact on your overall health. And there are plenty of foods that may be able to help with TBI recovery, as well as being good for your health in general.
For example, cold-water fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines are all good food items to add to your diet during recovery. These fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which play an important role in brain function and may help speed up recovery.
Other good sources of omega-3 are nuts and seeds. Examples include walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseed. Blueberries and strawberries are also a good dietary addition. Berries are rich in antioxidants, which can aid recovery by reducing inflammation.
2. Get plenty of rest
Avoid lifting weights, doing chores, and performing demanding cognitive tasks during your recovery. Your brain needs time to heal, and pushing yourself to return to normal too quickly can slow down your recovery.
On top of that, balance and cognitive issues often persist for a while after a brain injury, which makes people in recovery more prone to household accidents. And since falling and hitting your head again can have severe consequences, it’s best to play it safe during this period.
As for “demanding cognitive tasks,” this includes doing things like making your finances, playing complex games, using complex equipment, and more. Mental strain will often feel physically uncomfortable during this recovery process; if you start feeling uncomfortable while doing something, avoid doing it for long periods, or don’t do it at all.
Stay in touch with your doctor to know when you’re ready to get back to normal life. Your doctor will likely recommend that you ease yourself back to everyday tasks and work slowly. If you enjoy exercising, ask your doctor when you can get back to exercising and which activities are safe. Moderate physical activity may be able to help speed up your recovery.
3. Get plenty of sleep
Arguably the most important part of your recovery process is getting enough sleep. Sleep plays a big role in maintaining bodily functions, and that includes brain recovery. During your recovery, you may find yourself needing more sleep than usual. Try to make sure you have the space needed to let your body sleep as much as it wants to. In a busy house, this may require getting a sleep mask and earplugs you can use in bed.
It’s also a good idea to try to maintain a regular sleep schedule during this period. Having several hours of uninterrupted sleep at regular intervals helps make sure your brain goes through all the necessary sleep circles. The symptoms of brain injury may lead to sleeping issues. If you’re having trouble falling asleep due to pain or some other discomfort, talk to your doctor.
Avoid self-medicating with sleeping pills or any other medication during this vulnerable period — even over-the-counter medication. Stick to what your doctor has recommended as safe to use.
4. Avoid alcohol
Alcohol is essentially poison. It just happens to be a poison that has appealing side effects. However, alcohol is the last thing a brain recovering from TBI needs. Alcohol can have direct negative impacts on the brain, which can slow down your recovery. Alcohol is also a diuretic that can cause dehydration. A serious risk when you consider that the brain is 90% water.
It’s also a good idea to avoid other recreational drugs during this period, as they can have a negative impact on brain function.
5. Stay hydrated
Speaking of water, you should drink it. The body needs, on average, half a gallon of water a day. If you already had trouble staying hydrated before your recovery, put together a hydration plan for the recovery period. It can be as simple as having your phone remind you that it’s time to drink some water.
As mentioned, the brain is 90%. And dehydration can have a direct impact on cognitive function. This can make the symptoms of your brain injury worse, and it may also slow down your recovery.