What is a Brain Injury?
Over the years, different definitions have been used in brain injury. Recently Australia has published its ‘preferred definition of brain injury’. Brain Injury is the “multiple disabilities arising from damage to the brain acquired after birth. It results in deterioration of cognitive function, physical, emotional, or independent functioning. It can be a result of accidents, stroke brain tumors, infection, poisoning, lack of oxygen, degenerative neurological disease, etc.’
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a subset of Acquired Brain Injury (ABI). ABI’s include all TBI’s in addition to non-TBI causes such as strokes and meningitis as well as birth complications. Traumatic brain injury has been defined as ‘an injury to the brain resulting from an externally applied mechanical force that affects the brain and leads to loss of consciousness or coma’ (Kay and Lezak, 1990).
Brain injury is common. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over 700,000 Australians have a brain injury, with daily “activity limitations” and “participation restrictions”. Three in every four of these people are aged 65 or under. As many as two out of every three acquired their brain injury before the age of 25 and three-quarters of people with a brain injury are men.
Some of the causes of ABIs, such as strokes, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and falls do become more common in older people.
In no particular order, these are our top 5 tips for maximizing your rehab post brain injury.
1: A Positive Attitude and Determination
People react to a catastrophic incident such as a brain injury in many ways. People who do the best in rehab usually will see negative situations as a time to grow and develop.
Research shows that our attitudes and beliefs have a strong influence on the body’s ability to heal itself.
2: Structure and Routine
Structure post-ABI is critical in maximizing your rehabilitation outcomes. Adequate sleep, regular eating patterns, and similar rehabilitation times allow your body to maximise the time spent in each area.
Psychological issues such as depression and boredom can set in easily during your rehabilitation. Scheduled meal times, rest periods and rehabilitation times ensure motivation stays high and you have adequate time to rest.
3: Diet, exercise, and sleep
Diet, exercise, and sleep are important every day, but especially while recovering from any trauma including Acquired Brain Injury.
Ensure your diet is healthy and you eat at the same times each day. Regular exercise is good for your health and maintaining a positive attitude.
Regular rest periods and good sleep hygiene are vital for not stressing your brain and allowing it time to recover. Going to bed at the same time each night, not having tea or coffee late in the day, and avoiding alcohol are all good tips to maintain good sleep hygiene.
4: Surround Yourself with Support
A common key to successful rehabilitation is when the family gets involved. A good rehab team should know the importance of this as the family continues the ‘rehabilitation’ at home once the official ‘rehab period’ has ended.
Support groups can also play a vital role – not only for the person with a brain injury but their carers and family members. It is a chance to identify with others who have experienced similar problems, feel understood, and discuss solutions to problems. In remote areas, many find that online support groups on the Internet are very useful.
Make time to stay in touch with friends and work this into your schedule. This can be difficult as meeting a friend can be exhausting during the recovery phase however it is a critical part to maximise your social participation and aids in improving your wellbeing.
5: Repetition, Repetition, Repetition, Repetition
Neuroplasticity is only a relatively newly discovered medical phenomenon, however, it should be considered the biggest source of hope for all those who have sustained a brain injury. Although it is impossible to revive dead brain cells, scientists have been able to show that cells from other parts of the brain are able to take over and slowly learn how to perform the function of that area.
As an example, imagine you have impaired movement on the left-hand side of your body after a stroke, generally this means that the motor cortex (the part of the brain responsible for movement) has been damaged in the stroke. With appropriate rehabilitation, your brain is able to restore movement to your left side, (through neuroplasticity) by rewiring new parts of your brain to take over control of the movement of your left-hand side.
The key to turning on Neuroplasticity and retraining your brain is repetition.
So for example, if you want to regain arm function, then you need to repeat arm rehabilitation exercises 1000’s of times until your brain has successfully laid down new connections and rewired that part of the brain to control that particular movement.
At Concentric Rehabilitation Centre, we have developed a variety of treatment regimes to restore movement following an ABI, however, the key ingredient is that they all require lots of repetitions. We have the latest technology to ensure that this process is fun and easy to achieve, through the use of tools such as the FitMi.
The second component of your recovery is consistency. Not only do the neurons in your brain need lots of repetition in order to strengthen themselves, but they need consistency in order to really ensure this occurs.
For example, let’s say you pump out 400 repetitions in one rehabilitation session, however, you only do that once per week, vs. someone who does those 400 repetitions every single day. Who do you think will achieve a better outcome? Therefore, if you want to maximize your likelihood of recovery, you need to not only ensure there are enough repetitions but ensure you perform these repetitions consistently.
Need More Help?
So, there you have it, our 5 tips on what you need to know to maximise your rehabilitation and improve your independence, participation, and quality of life post-ABI. There’s obviously so much more you can do, and I could go into much more depth on ways to improve your life following a brain injury than the principles I’ve given you here, but these fundamentals, if you apply them rigorously and are disciplined, will make a huge difference to the quality of your life.
If you need more help, please do not hesitate to reach out to your nearest Concentric Clinic. Find your nearest clinic here: https://www.concentricrehab.com.au/contact/
Health Advice Disclaimer
We make every effort to ensure that we accurately represent the injury advice and prognosis displayed throughout this Guide.
However, examples of injuries and their prognosis are based on typical representations of those injuries that we commonly see in our clinics. The information given is not intended as a representation of every individual’s potential injury. As with any injury, each person’s symptoms can vary widely and each person’s recovery from injury can also vary depending upon background, genetics, previous medical history, application of exercises, posture, motivation to follow physio advice, and various other physical factors.
It is impossible to give a 100% complete accurate diagnosis and prognosis without a thorough physical examination and likewise, the advice given for management of an injury cannot be deemed fully accurate in the absence of this examination from one of the clinicians at the Concentric Rehabilitation Centre.
We are able to offer you this service at a standard charge. Significant injury risk is possible if you do not follow due diligence and seek suitable professional advice about your injury. No guarantees of specific results are expressly made or implied in this report.