A traumatic brain injury (TBI) isn’t something you can take lightly. Anytime your brain is injured, you have to take your recovery seriously. This means slowly easing back into things and paying attention to small details.
What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
A traumatic brain injury, also known as a TBI, typically results from a violent blow to the head. It can result from high-speed contact or force to the head or neck region (like two football players having head-to-head contact in a play) or an object penetrating the brain (such as a bullet or sharp object).
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Mild traumatic brain injury may affect your brain cells temporarily. More-serious traumatic brain injury can result in bruising, torn tissues, bleeding and other physical damage to the brain. These injuries can result in long-term complications or death.”
Physical symptoms of a mild TBI may include headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, speech problems, and dizziness. A mild TBI can also cause sensory symptoms like blurred vision, ringing in the ears, changes in smell or taste, and sensitivity to light. Cognitive symptoms may include difficulty sleeping, loss of consciousness, concentration issues, and unpredictable mood swings.
In moderate to severe cases, symptoms may include a loss of consciousness, seizures and convulsions, numbness in fingers and toes, loss of coordination, slurred speech, and/or coma.
5 Tips for TBI Recovery
There’s no cut-and-dry approach to recovering from a TBI. Every situation is unique. The cause, symptoms, and other patient-specific factors come into play. If you or someone you know is in the recovery stages of a TBI, here are several tips that may help:
Follow the Doctor’s Orders
Your doctor knows best. Even when their diagnosis or treatment plan isn’t what you want to hear, you have to remember that they have your best interests at heart. They’ve spent years studying medicine and have likely treated hundreds of patients with similar injuries. If they tell you to do something, you can rest assured it’s the best thing for you. (Pay especially close attention to anything they say about resuming normal activities. If they tell you to wait two weeks before doing something, don’t try to rush back in one week.)
Hire an Attorney (If Necessary)
Some TBIs are total accidents. And in some cases, there’s nobody to blame but you. But then there are situations where someone else’s negligence causes you harm. In these cases, it’s important to hold the other party accountable by pursuing legal action. Not only does this send a signal that their behavior or oversight is unacceptable, but it could provide you with the financial resources you need to pay for your medical bills and reach a full recovery.
Curious about whether or not your TBI necessitates legal action? Meet with a brain injury lawyer to discuss the details of your case and what options you might have.
When recovering from a TBI, what you put into your body matters. Your brain has additional needs and requires an overload of nutrients to sustain the healing process. A nutritious diet helps you recover faster and may also improve cognitive functioning and factors like stress and anxiety.
For a brain-healthy diet, aim to include plenty of fish, eggs, walnuts, leafy greens, and vitamin B12. Supplements can help, but try your best to get most of these nutrients from fresh food.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Don’t underestimate the importance of sleep in restoring proper functioning in the brain and encourage healing. Sleep aids in memory, learning, and other cognitive tasks that you may be finding difficult after your injury.
For best results, aim for at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. In the first few weeks of recovery, you may also need regular naps during the day. However, be aware of excessive napping, which may have counterproductive effects.
Return to Work Slowly
Returning to work after a TBI is a major milestone. However, you don’t want to rush things. Speak with your employer and keep them updated on your recovery and progress. It may be best to ease back with some part-time hours at first. You’ll also want to avoid any intense physical or cognitive work. Simpler and more methodical tasks will help you ease back into the swing of things.
Adding it All Up
A TBI is serious and should be treated as such. You must listen to your doctors and take a proactive approach to recovery. This doesn’t mean rushing back to “normal” prematurely. It does, however, mean playing an active role in encouraging the healing process through proper rest, rehab, and – if necessary – legal action.