Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Redefining Recovery

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Redefining Recovery

I read a story recently about a mother saying how grateful she was that her 6 year old daughter had survived a serious traumatic brain injury. She went on to say that as much as she and her husband were thankful that they still had their baby girl, they missed the bubbly and happy child she was before the brain injury. It is very difficult for loved ones to adjust to the unexpected change in personalities and disabilities. Even though it is a common response to want things to be the same, most people can feel burdened by the guilt in the way they deal with the loss.

This is also a typical response for the survivor wishing they were the same person as before the brain injury and experts are quick to confirm that we will not be the same. We feel a tremendous loss loss of cognitive and physical skills, compromised memory and an inability to multitask. Foggy brain is what we call it. It’s like a bad dream. After my brain injury, I also lost my confidence and self esteem because I wasn’t as high functioning as I was before.

It is this general feeling of loss of what could have been if it weren’t for this injury, that keeps us stuck. I can totally relate. The feeling of being stuck and not able to move beyond the boundaries that are fueled by depression, physical and emotional pain, can be paralyzing.

About four months after my initial injury caused by a horseback riding accident, I found a speech pathologist who specialized in traumatic brain injury. She understood my injury and gave me hope that I would heal. Do you know how that feels when someone understands what you are experiencing, when no one else has a clue including your doctor? It confirmed that I wasn’t a hypochondriac. I felt empowered and was determined to heal.

I read as many books as I could find on the latest brain research. My cognitive therapist gave me exercises to regain memory and cognitive skills. It was hard to find a book to help me understand what a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) was. But in the nine years of my recovery, I discovered that there isn’t anything “mild” about a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury!

If they tell us that we can’t recover it all back, then why not redefine “recovery” in our own words, in our own way. Looking back, I would say the first step in redefining my own recovery was to mourn the loss of what was taken away by this “invisible injury.” I had to face it, accept it and release it.

It is wise to reach out to medical professionals that can assist in the process of mourning the loss, accepting and releasing it. I highly recommend your exploring the following treatment options: Cognitive Therapist, Somatic Experiencing, EFT, Trauma Release, Chi gong, Reiki, Craniosacral, EMDR, and Neurofeedback. Some of these therapies may not be familiar to you and I suggest that you research them. The Internet is a great resource. Also ask other survivors what worked for them. Since emotional and physical trauma are held in the body, not just in the mind, these therapies go deeper to release the residual cellular memory.

There is more to healing from MTBI than just therapy, however. It takes courage to move forward with the determination that you will heal, you will get better. The good news is that you haven’t lost it. Courage is innate. It is imbedded in your soul, in your being, in the very essence of you. Get in touch with your courage, wake it up because this is the spark that will light up your new life!

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Tip Sports Concussions and Alzheimer’s

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Tip Sports Concussions and Alzheimer’s

I have been told that having a traumatic brain injury and multiple concussions increase my chances of getting dementia and Alzheimer’s. This medical threat has been confirmed often in the media by reporting on the number of Veteran football players who are known to have Alzheimer’s, such as John Mackey who is a Football Hall of Famer. And Andre Waters, the former Philadelphia Eagles player committed suicide at age 44, whose brain autopsy report revealed that his brain tissue resembled that of an 80-year-old with Alzheimer’s disease. And the former New England Patriots linebacker, Ted Johnson, at age 34 said he was exhibiting the depression and memory lapses associated with oncoming Alzheimer’s.

Even though I didn’t play football, I did play Polo for 10 years, fell off a horse a few times and survived two major automobile accidents. The interesting thing about concussions is that, there were times I felt confused after a fall, but I didn’t go to the hospital. Only a wimp would do such a think, especially when I was playing a man’s sport at the time. The point being is that years ago, it was referred to as “just a concussion,” implying that it was a minor injury.

What motivates me to share healing and recovery tips on sports-related concussions and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) is the fear of Alzheimer’s nipping at my heals. However, I am optimistic that I can prevent dementia and Alzheimers because I outran and overcame memory and cognitive issues brought on by a brain injury caused by a major horse accident in June 2001.

So my purpose in speaking and writing about this subject is to spread the good news about preventing memory loss from head injuries and age related decline. For example, in an article I just read at the NPR website, , Dr. David Bennett, Director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago suggests building “cognitive reserve” extra brain capacity. He describes it, “like the side streets when there’s an accident on the expressway. Everything comes to a dead stop, and you get off and you meander through the side streets, and you can actually get to your destination.”

Some people are lucky to inherit 50 percent of cognitive reserve. Another way to build up this reserve is through ongoing education and “rich life experiences having a purpose in life, conscientiousness, social networks, stimulating activities all these things seem to be protective, in terms of how your brain expresses whatever pathology it’s accumulating,” Dr. Bennett says. In other words, brain research has documented that autopsies of many brains showing the organic changes of Alzheimer’s, but the symptoms were not manifested in their lives. Research is crediting the neuroplasticity of the brain and it’s ability to rewire by building new brain cells, neural pathways and synapses. That’s quite encouraging.

Besides being social and expanding your education in whatever interests you have, I’ve also read that learning to play a musical instrument, physical exercise and dancing, especially learning new dance steps build a “cognitive reserve.” There is an old saying, “He who has the most toys when he dies, wins.” Well, my new saying is, “He who has the most brain cells when he dies, wins.” Remember, you heard it here first

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Tip: Physical Exercise

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Tip: Physical Exercise

Physical Exercise is one of the most important ways to improve brain fitness and memory, like walking, hiking, riding a bike, cross-country skiing, dancing, etc. Aerobic exercise is the key. Dancing not only boosts the oxygen supply to the brain, but learning new dance steps also increases the production of brain cells, new pathways and synapses. Try Jazzercise, Zumba, Western Dancing, Sulsa or Ballroom Dancing, you might like it. I guarantee you will laugh a lot.

A woman who exercise can lower their chances of developing dementia by 50 percent.” Imagine what it would do for men as well. He presents startling new research “to prove that exercise is truly the best defense against everything from mood disorders to ADHD to addiction to menopause to Alzheimer’s.”

Have you heard this old saying, “He who has the most toys when he dies, wins?” Well, I decided that it should really be, “He who has the most brain cells when he dies, wins!”

Yes, weight lifting and yoga are excellent for the body, mind and spirit, but aerobic exercise is one of the best things to add to your brain fitness routine. I’ve read that at least 5 hours a week will make a significant difference. So start today, to put some sort of aerobic exercise on your weekly schedule. Make it fun listen to music, walk or hike with a friend.

Last summer, a friend enticed me to get back on my bike by riding to a restaurant for breakfast. The fear of falling, of not responding quickly enough, and crossing streets held me back. We took it slow and I felt ecstatic that I was able to push beyond my comfort zone. By the end of the summer, I was riding by myself and the fear was banished and my confidence increased mentally and physically.

I invite you to tell me your success stories in regards to physical exercise. There will be more blogs on Memory Tips and opportunities for you to respond and comment!