Tips for Recovering After a Head Injury or Concussion

The Symptoms of Brain Trauma

Fitness Brain

Head injuries may be caused by any number of trauma situations, ranging from accidents or athletics to fights or simple shaking or whiplash. But the result of a blow to the head is often the same: some level of brain injury due to an impact between the brain and the skull. And commonly, head injuries lead to concussions. This type of temporary brain injury may start with a loss of consciousness or a period of blackout, although this is not always the case.

The victim will likely suffer from one or more of the following symptoms:

  • confusion
  • inability to concentrate
  • headache
  • blurry vision
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • sadness
  • anxiety
  • sleeping issues
  • memory loss
  • and more…

While some people recover from minor concussions within hours of trauma, it could take as long as several weeks or even months to fully heal from a major concussion. In extreme cases, symptoms may last for years (especially in the event of multiple concussions). But the question posed by active people intent on getting back to their regular routine is how long they will have to wait to get back to regular exercise. This article on CognitiveFX goes into more detail on how long the symptoms of a concussion may last along with other useful details.

We know now that chronic brain injury almost always leads to such neurological disorders as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, dementia and CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), a degenerative brain disease that disables the victim and eventually causes death. The effects of brain trauma, while apparent immediately after the trauma, subside after recovery, but seem to resurface later in life, putting victims in the hospital or worse.

Professional sports organizations like the NFL and NHL have been forced to put strict post-concussion medical testing into effect to prevent players even from exercising before all of their symptoms subside. These days it seems like the NFL is consistently involved in multimillion-dollar lawsuits from retired football players whose quality of life is virtually nil due to the effects of chronic concussions during their career, so you know head trauma is no longer a laughing matter.

How Long is the Waiting Period?

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. The recovery time after a concussion depends almost entirely on the person injured and the level of trauma sustained. If, for example, you are young, fit, and healthy, you may recover more quickly than a person who is older and in poorer health, supposing that you experience the same level of trauma. However, doctors must assess such incidents on a case by case basis.

Even if you’ve had a similar injury in the past, you can’t expect the healing time to be the same. But there is some good news. You can take steps to optimize your recovery and watch for signs that will let you know when it is once again safe to undertake your normal exercise routine.

Optimize Recovery

The first thing you need to do is communicate with your doctor or physical therapist. Whereas you might be tempted to push your limitations, this course of action has the potential to worsen your situation and prolong recovery. Your doctor or therapist will temper your desire to get back to normal with instructions meant to help you achieve progress towards recovery. This will often take the form of ample rest, which is the main treatment for helping the brain to heal.

You may also have to avoid certain physical activities for a period of time or at least tone them down. And of course, you should steer clear of alcohol and other drugs that could impede your recovery. But you’ll know when you’re starting to improve, at which point you can talk to your doctor about adding physical activity back into the mix.

Don’t Rush Back!

For the most part, you’ll simply have to wait until your doctor gives you the all-clear before you can return to your normal exercise regimen. In some cases, you will be able to start slow and build up to intense or strenuous activity throughout your recuperation. But for the most part, you can get back to your normal routine more quickly by taking it easy for a while.

Concussions may result from small accidents like falling on ice or getting hit in the head with a ball, to far more serious causes like motorcycle accident head injuries and direct high-speed collisions in sports. Whatever the cause, you may need to recover fully before attempting exercise. Conferring with your doctor and following medical advice is the only way to go and will help you to spring back before you know it.

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