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Traumatic Brain Injury - Returning To Activities

Robert Karns

Once you have been diagnosed with a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury in addition to obtaining expert medical care with a neurologist, any recommended medication, neuropsychologist for testing and appropriate cognitive rehabilitation therapy per the neurologist and neuropsychologist, it is extremely important to get enough rest.

The symptoms that occur following a traumatic brain injury are as follows:

  • Headache
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in sleep
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Difficulty in communication

Getting sufficient rest in addition to the proper medical treatment will help with these symptoms. Physical activities should be limited including sports, heavy house cleaning and heavy yard work.

People suffering from a mild traumatic brain injury should limit mental activities that require paying attention or concentrating. This means taking enough time off from work or school to allow the brain to begin the healing process.

When returning to work it must be made clear to the place of employment (supervisor, co-employees, etc.) any restrictions that must be recognized including the ability to come in late, leave early, the ability to be on light duty including less exertion and less concentration.

A student returning to school must have extra consideration. It must be made clear to the school system and teachers that the student has had a traumatic brain injury, and the restrictions must be recognized. This can mean extra help from the school system, an Individual Education Program (IEP) that addresses educational needs, whether or not the student can participate in physical activities, and all problems the student is having including concentration issues.

Other specific limitations occur including changes in sexual functioning that can be caused by:

  • Damage to part of the brain
  • Hormonal changes caused by the traumatic brain injury
  • Medication side effects
  • Fatigue
  • Emotional changes and concentration problems
  • Problems with movement if chronic pain

To help improve sexual functioning the following can be considered:

  • Get a comprehensive medical exam and discuss this with your doctors
  • Consider psychotherapy or counseling
  • Consider sex therapy
  • Discuss this with your partner and plan sexual activities when you are less tired
  • Limit distractions
  • Utilize positions that have less effect on painful areas

As can be seen from all of the above, during recovery it is important to obtain enough rest and ease back into your life by restricting activities including around the home, work and school.

However, once activities are being increased and it is possible, with your physician's advice, it is important to begin light exercise. Studies suggest that people that exercise are less depressed and showed improvement with physical exercise compared to non-exercisers.

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