First steps to Concussion Recovery
This may be a big ask for you. In the last weeks or months you have suffered. You have tried everything you know to try to heal. You may have spent hundreds or thousands of dollars. You have fought with your own limited capacity to think, plan and execute. You no longer feel you are yourself. You are afraid and you may be losing hope.
Know that there is much that can be done to heal the injured brain. You are on a journey in unfamiliar territory and the main tool, your mind, that you would use to guide yourself, has failed you. Know that others have traveled the path you are on now. Some have resigned themselves to stay where they are on the path, but others continue to move forward every day. Join them in moving forward.
Know that hope itself is healing. This is a spiritual belief and a physiological fact. The lower your stress level the easier it will be for your brain to heal. Hope creates both the path and the means to travel that path to better health.
You have heard this before. Maybe this is all you heard. If so, I am sorry that has been your experience. There is more, much more that can be done to heal, but it is true, the injured brain must rest to heal.
So how do you rest the brain? You have to work or study. You cannot stop your life. If you were sick, you would stay home, read a book, watch TV, work or play on your computer. While these things can be relaxing, they still use and fatigue many areas of the brain.
The most restful state for the brain is sleep. Get plenty of it. Get more than you think you need. The next most restful state is meditation. Give it a try. Sit quietly. When thoughts come up, recognize them and go back to sitting quietly.
What? You say you can’t do that all day? Me neither. But you can do things that are meditative. T’ai Chi, yoga, stretching, exercise within limits, cooking, hiking, singing, gardening, crafts, prayer.
And what about work? or school? Ideally, we would be able to take time off and you may have to. If you truly cannot or simply refuse to, what then can you do?
One of the worst aspects of concussion is brain fatigue. It can cause; brain fog, irritability, volatile emotions, confusion, memory issues, cognitive issue, and the list goes on. The physical basis of this fatigue are understood and can be addressed in many ways, but none of those ways will succeed without rest.
If you absolutely must use your brain, you must also know your limitations. You must rest before symptoms are triggered. You must take breaks. You must vary the type of work you do between more and less mentally challenging. You must organize your life to reduce the need for decision making and planning. All these are coping strategies, they are not healing strategies, but they will make healing more possible.
If you stop trying so hard, you will actually start accomplishing what you want to do most, heal.
You are a smart, independent, accomplished person. That is who you know yourself as. Now you are injured and though you cannot accept it, you may be recognizing that you have changed. You are not as capable as you once were. Both the recognition and the not accepting will be assets in your healing.
What does an intelligent person do when they have a problem they cannot solve alone? They get help. That means not just seeking out health care professionals and following through on their advice. It means having someone help you seek out health care professionals and follow through on their advice. It means having someone to be your advocate. You need someone to help you make the decisions about who to see. You need someone who is willing to be there with you, listen, ask questions and remember what was said. You need someone to check in with on a regular basis to make sure you remain on your path to better brain health. You need someone to share this article with and agree to be that person.
Make it Personal
No two people and no two head injuries are alike. Sure, there is a lot in common. The principles behind the problem are the same, but how they manifest and how they need to be addressed can be very different. Your plan for healing needs to be personal. That doesn’t mean that the solution will be complicated, but it may mean that finding the solution is complicated.
The brain affects everything in the body. You knew that. Did you know that everything in the body affects the brain? When the brain is injured it effects organ systems which in turn can negatively impact the recovery of the brain. Areas that may have seemed fine, but were struggling to maintain healthy function can be tipped out of balance. Most people recover from concussion with 3 weeks of rest, others never seem to recover. What makes one person different from another? The whole person must be considered and the plan for healing must be personal.