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10 First Steps After Traumatic Brain Injury

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Kellie Pokrifka

Tip # 1: Sleep

So many people still believe in waking the patient up every hour. This prevents healing at a time in which your body so desperately needs it. Rest as often as possible.

Tip #2: Fish Oil

Take mega doses of Omega 3's. Make sure it is a high quality brand. Take 5,000 mg 3 times a day. This will give your body the nutrients it needs to repair brain cells.

Tip #3: Eliminate Gluten & Dairy

Following a brain injury, both the intestinal lining and the Blood Brain Barrier become excessively permeable. This allows for inappropriate food particles to move into the brain, causing serious inflammation at a time when an inflammatory cascade is already happening.

Tip #4: Get off your Phone

Screens are incredibly hard for the damaged brain to process. Cognitive rest involves a total break from all mentally stimulating activities- books, movies, phones. It seems so hard but will be so worth it for the healing process.

Tip #5: Epsom Salt Baths

A concussion depletes your Magnesium levels in your brain. This causes Calcium levels to spike too high, which leads to cell death. Soaking in an Epsom Salt bath will help the body restore its magnesium levels which will prevent further damage. If you can find a sensory deprivation float center near you, even better!

Tip #6: Physical Rest

Protocol is changing where doctors will no longer recommend a total physical rest until symptoms are gone. However, you still need to be careful. Rest completely for 48 hours before a very gradual return to play. Slight exercise will help the brain repair, but ensure that you are not overdoing it.

Tip #7: Record your Symptoms

This will help both you and your doctor. Memory deficits are extremely common, and, sometimes, the stress of a doctor's appointment can cause additional lapses. Having the symptoms written down will make each visit easier. It will also help determine the next steps if the injury lingers.

Tip #8: Eat Clean

Don't force yourself into thinking that this will have to be forever. However, immediately following a concussion, these nutrients are critical. Avoid anything processed and focus on high amounts of healthy fats (i.e. olive oil, coconut oil.) Get plenty of protein to allow for cell repair. Micronutrients from dark, leafy greens are also essential following brain injury.

Tip #9: Don't be Afraid of Alternative Care

The field of brain injury recovery is so very young that many doctors are not yet prepared to dole out cutting-edge advice for treatment strategies. Alternative care such as functional neurology and behavioral optometry are huge in the brain injury community, but typically not heard of outside of it. Do your research, but don't be too afraid to seek out new options.

Tip #10: Relax

While all brain injuries are serious, do not allow yourself to be caught up in the potential dangers. Within three weeks, about 90% of concussions will no longer present with noticeable symptoms. Support groups are wonderful, but remember that when people heal, they typically stop attending these groups. It is intimidating to keep seeing people years out from their injury on online forums. However, these people have been there the longest and are impacted the most, thus why they seem to be the loudest. Do not assume this will be you! This stress will only exacerbate your injury.

My Final Traumatic Brain Injury Message

Brain injury recovery is a slow and painful process. Give yourself a break and celebrate every tiny victory. Do not rush your pace and do not be afraid to reach out for help.

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