Category: Lifestyle

Information Lifestyle Treatments & Therapies

I Know… My Treatments

There are many treatments to help those with traumatic brain injuries manage and overcome the many symptoms that they face, but the hard part comes when trying to find the treatment that is best for you. I know for myself, it took a while for me to figure out exactly what really worked. Therefore, here, I have outlined all of the many treatments that help traumatic brain injury patients manage and overcome their symptoms and conditions. So let’s get started! 

*Disclaimer – Information within this post should not be regarded as medical advice, please consult with your doctor to find the right treatment plan for you*

Vision Therapy (Oculomotor Training) 

Vision therapy is commonly used for those with vision difficulties following the onset of a brain injury, which can include symptoms such as sensitivity to motion, blurry vision, double vision, eye pain, headaches, dizziness, and peripheral vision problems. This type of therapy has many techniques used in order to help train aspects of the vision system to repair and rejuvenate damaged connections in the brain. 

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists help individuals reintegrate and return back into the communities in which they reside. They evaluate and treat visual, arm, and cognitive impairment that may negatively affect one after a brain injury. Activities may include home management, rest and sleep habits, work tasks, and social participation. In some cases, an occupational therapist may give instruction outside of the office at a grocery store, workplace, or home. The focus of this therapy is to help you reacclimate yourself to the daily tasks and events that you faced prior to your injury. For more information about Occupational Therapy, please visit the link below!

https://www.aota.org/About-Occupational-Therapy/Professionals/RDP/brain-injury.aspx

https://www.brainline.org/article/occupational-therapy-practice-guidelines-adults-traumatic-brain-injury

Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation

Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation is a specialized and individualized treatment routine for those who have visual difficulties as a direct result of a traumatic brain injury, physical disability, and other neurological insults. This therapy is a process for the rehabilitation of visual/perceptual/ motor disorders and utilizes prisms, lens filters, and occlusion to help stimulate parts of the brain that are not functioning at their fullest potential. Treatment plans are often tailored to the needs of the patient. For more information about Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation, visit the links below!

https://noravisionrehab.org/patients-caregivers/what-is-neuro-optometric-rehabilitation

Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber Therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized room or tube. It is commonly used in order to treat decompression sickness. In a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber, the air pressure is increased to three times higher than normal air pressure, your lungs can then gather more oxygen than would be possible in breathing pure oxygen at normal air pressure. This all helps to fight bacteria and to stimulate the release of substances called growth factors and stem cells, which prompt healing. 

For more information about hyperbaric oxygen chamber therapy, check out these links.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/hyperbaric-oxygen-therapy/about/pac-20394380

https://www.brainline.org/research/comprehensive-review-hyperbaric-oxygen-treatment-brain-injury

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/hyperbaric-oxygen-therapy

Speech Therapy

Speech therapists also known as Speech-Language Pathologists work with those with traumatic brain injuries in improving memory, problem-solving skills, social and language skills, cognitive-communication skills, and much more. They help traumatic brain injury patients communicate effectively after the onset of their injury and as they progress to recover. For more information about Speech Therapy, please visit the links below.

https://greatspeech.com/6-ways-speech-therapy-can-aid-in-brain-injury-recovery/

https://www.brainline.org/topic/speech-language-therapy

Vestibular (Balance) Therapy

Vestibular therapy can be helpful for those who have persistent dizziness, vertigo, and balance problems. This type of therapy utilizes habituation exercises, gaze stability training, and balance training in order to improve dizziness and bodily orientation.

Click the link below for more information on vestibular therapy.

https://www.neuroskills.com/programs-and-services/therapies/vestibular-therapy/

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can be especially helpful for those who have certain types of headaches and/or who may have suffered orthopedic injuries at the onset of their injury. Physical therapy includes treatments that include exercise, massage, and heat therapies. The goal of physical therapy is to help patients relieve injuries that may be making the concussion-related symptoms worse.

Click the link below for more information on physical therapy.

https://www.brainline.org/article/physical-therapy-brain-i-njury

Herbal and Homeopathic Treatment

Homeopathic treatment is a type of alternative medicine that utilizes natural remedies made from naturally occurring substances–herbs make up the majority of healing substances used.

To learn more about homeopathic therapy click the links below!

https://vtherbcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Herbs-for-TBI.pdf

Psychological Counseling

A counselor can help in learning healthy coping skills, relationships, and emotional well-being after the onset of a brain injury as well as when and if it is prolonged. Seeking assistance from a counselor can be especially helpful in deciphering and understanding your thought patterns and potential habits during your TBI recovery.

If you are contemplating getting a  counselor, be sure to check out this article below.

https://www.brainline.org/article/counseling-after-brain-injury-13-things-want-know-are-afraid-ask

Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy utilizes activities designated to improve memory, attention, perception, learning, planning, and judgment. Cognitive therapy covers a wide range of symptoms of brain injury patients but helps to increase personal awareness of themselves and their environments. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be effective for those who suffer from mood changes after a brain injury. Cognitive-behavioral therapists help patients develop the ability to identify negative thought patterns while creating concrete skills to manage them. This therapy has been shown effective for those who suffer from anxiety and depression following their injury. For more information about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy click the link below.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cognitive-behavioral-therapy/about/pac-20384610

Exertional Therapy

Exertional therapy can be helpful for those who are experiencing a slower recovery than expected. This type of therapy involves performing light aerobic activities in a controlled and monitored environment, like a treadmill, pool, or other no risk impact setting. Exercise has many benefits to recovery, talk to your doctor about ways you can begin including exercise into your daily life.

For my exercise to recovery treatment plan click this link!

Exercise to Recovery

Sources

https://concussionfoundation.org/PCS-resources/PCS-treatments

https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/tbi/conditioninfo/treatment

Click here to tune into the podcast! https://concussionbegone.com/i-know-my-treatments-podcast/(opens in a new tab)

Read More
Lifestyle

ConcussionBeGone’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Holidays!

The holidays are supposed to be a time of happiness, laughter, and excitement, but with a brain injury, the holidays can be stressful, draining, and just down-right miserable. But, it does not have to be all of these things, you can enjoy your family, your friends, and all of the good food without putting your health and peace of mind at risk. SO, here is the ConcussionBeGone guide to surviving the holiday season(:

Prepare Your Mind

This is one point that I believe is most important and it has everything to do with your attitude and mindset. What attitude are you going to have this holiday season? Do you expect that it will be horrible? Do you expect the worse or are you preparing yourself for the best? You do not have to be overly optimistic, but you can decide that in this holiday season that you will try your best to relax, enjoy your family, while also respecting and honoring your healing journey. I encourage you all to prepare your mindset this holiday for the best, be optimistic, and let go of any negative thoughts that have kept your mind captive. You can enjoy yourself this holiday season. Prepare well and you will.

Have an honest conversation with your family beforehand

Having an honest conversation with your family about where you are in your recovery, as well as how it will affect your participation in the holiday festivities will allow for your family to understand and support you during the holiday season. By opening up, you allow others to help you in the areas that are difficult. By opening up, you no longer carry the burden alone.

Share with your family the things that you need from them in order to make it through the holiday. This could be as simple as telling your husband/wife that you need them to get groceries for dinner or that you may disappear a few times during Christmas dinner for rest. By telling your family, beforehand, what to expect from you and how they can help you will eliminate the annoying questions and/or comments about why you aren’t as active as usual.

Keep it Simple

The biggest mistake that I made during my brain injury recovery was not slow down. I tried to be the same active and vibrant Nicole that I had been before my injury, but it only made my health increasingly worse. When recovering from a brain injury it is important to take it slow, and the holidays are no exception. Keep your days simple and don’t stress yourself out by trying to do and be apart of everything. You can only do, what you can do(:

Don’t Be Afraid to Say No

This point hits home for me because I am and have always been a “yes, yes” kind of girl. It is hard for me to say no to people, but like I said in the previous point–you can only do what you can do. Do not stretch and spread yourself thin trying to please family members or friends. Your mental and physical wellbeing is what is most important, especially during this time when you are recovering from such a life-changing injury. Don’t be afraid to say no.

Find Alternatives

For some people, including myself, it can be very hard to say no. This is why I believe finding alternative activities during the holidays can be so helpful. Talk with your family about doing activities that may be better suited for your injury. This could be instead of going out for a night of karaoke (like my family), we play a board game or have a painting event at home. There are activities that won’t exacerbate your symptoms, find them and make a suggestion to implement them in your holiday activities.

Listen to Your Body

Listening to your body is unbelievably important. If you notice that your symptoms are becoming increasingly exacerbated it may be time for you to take a small break. It may be time for a walk or to sit in a quieter room. Listen to what your body is telling you, it is almost always right.

Take Breaks

One thing that a lot of us do not give ourselves enough of is… breaks. When you notice that you becoming overstimulated or overwhelmed, take a short break. Take a small walk outside, drink a cool glass of water and rest for a bit. Give yourself time to calm down, recalibrate, and then rejoin your family and friends. Do not push or force yourself to stay in situations that cause your symptoms to get out of control. Take the break, your brain will thank you later(;

Have a Buddy

Oh, the buddy system, what a great system to have! For all of my mothers, this is especially for you. During the holidays, the work is oftentimes done by you! But with a brain injury this can be unbelievably hard, that is why having a buddy who you can call on to assist in collecting errands is so important. Not only is this buddy important for helping you run holiday tasks, but this is someone that you can reach out to and be honest about what you are going through

This person can also be helpful when your symptoms become exacerbated. Your buddy can be the person that you take a walk with or go to a quiet room when you are overwhelmed. You do not have to go through it alone.

Guard Your Heart

Sometimes people will have opinions on topics of discussion that they simply do not understand. This is especially true when it comes to brain injuries. I can remember the countless times in which my friends and some family member would ask, “why I wasn’t better” or “when I would be better” or even worse, “why I looked fine but didn’t act like it”. These comments can be very painful to hear, so I encourage you to guard your heart and mind. People do not know, what they do not understand and unfortunately, brain injuries are one of those things. Be prepared to get those questions and comments, but do not let them get the best of you. You are a fighter, you are a warrior, and no one can come close to understand just how strong you are.

Have a Happy Holiday

Most of all, have a happy holiday, enjoy yourself, eat your favorite foods, smile, laugh, play games, enjoy this moment in time. Brain injuries can really put the damper on life, but do not let it steal these precious moments.

Happy holidays everyone, this is ConcussionBeGone’s guide to having an enjoyable and happy holiday(:

Read More
Diet Lifestyle My Recovery Treatments & Therapies

Let’s Eat! – Me, Myself, and Food in Concussion Recovery

I don’t know about you, but food is the love of my life. It is one thing that has supported me through it all. Those moments when I’m sad, stressed, tired, happy, angry, frustrated, and every other emotion under the sun, food has been there for me. I had never really cared or taken notice of my health because I was young, “fit” and still a well-rounded athlete. I knew that my eating habits were bad, but didn’t make the final decision to change them until I was overtaken with poor health caused by my brain injury.

My journey in my brain injury recovery taught me the true meaning of self-love. Self-love is taking take of your body and giving it the nutrients and foods that it craves and deserves. Changing my perspective this way, made it a lot easier for me to make the decision to change my diet. But, anyway, that’s another discussion for another blog post! Let’s get back to the story(:

After about four months of battling and riding the highs and lows of a brain injury, I finally threw in the towel and came to the conclusion that my strategy for fighting my concussion was not right. Though I was taking the fish oil pills my doctor had prescribed and resting whenever I felt like it, my brain was not in the right environment to recover. Still, I was eating junk food every now and then, and remaining dormant for the majority of my days. Truth is, I wasn’t eating the right foods to promote healing! I was malnourished and depriving my cells of the nutrients needed to function most effectively and efficiently.

Thus, the hunt began to find foods that would promote my healing. My father had been an advocate for plant and fruit-based diets within my family and educated us on a regular basis on the powerful benefits of eating the right foods and how it can reverse even the worst of illnesses. I figured it wouldn’t at all hurt to try. Truth is, I didn’t have anything to lose. I started by deciding what foods I would cut out completely and ones that I would eat in moderation. I decided to completely cut out all processed sugars & foods, fried foods, sweets, as well as red meat. This may not be a lot for you, but for ME, this was huge! I didn’t realize how heavily I ate all of these things until I cut it all out!

The next task was to figure out what I WOULD eat. This was pretty self-explanatory as well, I decided to increase my fruit and vegetable intake, by increasing more leafy greens like kale and spinach in my diet. As well as blueberries, apples, and bananas. All of which are good for the brain and maintaining energy levels. I also ate seafood at least twice a week, which included salmon and tilapia and moderately ate chicken and bread. Doing this significantly increased my energy levels and overall cognitive performance. I experienced fewer brain crashes and fatigue after my meals.

I was not unbelievably strict on my diet, I found that by being very cautious about everything that I ate made me paranoid in the event that messed up. So, in the event that I messed up one day I didn’t beat myself up but instead made it up with nutrient-rich food in my following meal. My focus was to make sure that I was putting the right foods into my body. Instead of focusing on what I could not eat, I focused on the many foods that I could! This motivated me to eat better and to maintain my new diet for an extended period of time.

So, in conclusion, healthy eating is a crucial part of brain injury recovery and is one of the many steps and parts that lead to recovering. I hope this blog post is helpful to you all! I will see ya in the next blog post

Happy healing,

Nicole

Read More
Exercise Lifestyle

Exercise to Recovery

After four months of battling with a concussion, I quickly became desperate for solutions. I was having chronic headaches every single day and though I had taken a lot of time out of my day to rest and “heal”, I still saw no improvements. Every day began to look the same, I would go to school for half a day, come home with a headache and immediately go to bed, where I would sleep for at least three hours. The increasing amount of time that I spent in my house and shut off from the world began to depress me. So with the extra time on my hands, I began to do extensive research on post-concussion syndrome, as well as people who had and had yet to overcome the condition. I soon came across a particular blog about a man who had recovered from a brain injury caused by a car accident. It took him thirteen months to recover. (Here is the link to his story). It is a really good read and his story is super inspiring! It was here that I learned about the “Expose & Recovery” theory, as well as how he utilized exercise to recover. The idea behind expose and recovery treatment is that you expose yourself to whatever makes you irritated, rest, and then try it again. Over time your brain will adjust and familiarize itself with the stimuli.

It was with this advice that I decided to give this theory a shot, I had nothing to lose. Plus, the workout plan that he completed gave me some form of structure and control that I did not have before. I created a five day workout schedule very similar to that of the man on the blog, but modified it to my liking.

Before we get into what this daily workout routine looked like, I must note:

For this workout routine I utilized little to no workout gear. The only items I used are listed below!

Weights: https://amzn.to/2AQRTin

Yoga Mats: https://amzn.to/2MjpVjS

Half Balance Ball: https://amzn.to/2T4KLG

*I am not a doctor, this is all based off of my own personal experience. Please be sure to always talk with your doctor.*

I always started my workouts by taking a walk/jog outside. I think this is the most important part. Why? Well, like I said before the goal is to expose yourself to stimuli that you would be in contact with on a normal day. The outdoors are full of various smells, sights, temperatures, and more. In order to heal, you must let go of the idea that you must stay shut up in your house and away from anything and everything that makes you uncomfortable. The truth is you need to be out in the world to retrain your brain to normalcy. Again, this is for those who have had a concussion for at least 3 months and are battling with post-concussion syndrome.

After I completed my jog, I would come indoors for the remainder of the workout, which included high knee steps, Russian twists, left/right side planks, lunges, squats, and more. (Full workout plan at the bottom) When I first started the workout plan, I felt like absolute crap. I remember during the first week I could barely make it through the workout, my head would pound and I would become dizzy. I questioned if I was truly doing the right thing, but as the blog that I read stated, the first two weeks would be super difficult, but you have to continue. Sure enough, this was true and after about a week and a half I felt significantly better. I was able to complete the full exercise and my headaches began to decrease in severity, it was extremely encouraging.

I began the workout routines in April 2018 and did them consistently for about a month and half, as I started to get better I cut down the number of workouts that I completed to about 2 or 3 a week. Even though I had started the exercise routine, I would still have setbacks and bad days. But the difference was that when I did have a setback or bad day, it would not last as long nor would be as severe. For example, instead of having a super intense setback with booming headaches, nausea, and dizziness, a setback would be more mild and I would get a headache in one area of my head instead of all three. The “new” setbacks that I had also did not last as long, so instead of my setbacks lasting two weeks they would last for day or two and I’d be back to normal the next. I was really amazed with my improvement. The improvements were not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Exercising really helped boost my energy levels and helped combat my feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety. For the first time, I found something that I could actually do. For the first time, I had some control back in my life.

Exercising was not the only thing that I started, I also implemented daily vestibular exercises and diet changes; which also played a huge role in my full recovery.

Here is the exercise routine that I completed daily. I completed the workouts similarly to how you would complete a circuit, doing each one (except the running/walk outside, of course) a total of three times.

Remember, you will feel like absolute crap the first week or two that is normal. Persevere it will get better!!

Read More
Back To Top