How Does the Brain Repair Itself After a Traumatic Brain Injury?
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) are serious medical conditions that require careful medical monitoring and care. While modern medicine has done wonders for the prevention and treatment of disease or injury, brain injuries are still a bit of a mystery. In fact, much of the brain heals itself following a TBI. Here’s what you need to know about the healing process following a TBI and how you can help the process.
The Brain Is a Self-Healing Machine
First, the brain is really an amazing organ. Doctors rarely do anything to “heal” the brain itself; rather, their focus is to control the symptoms and stabilize the brain so it can begin to repair. Restoring cognitive function first occurs when the brain compensates for lost neurons by taking over the functions of those neurons. The first step is clearing away any dead cells so neurons can reroute information to compensate for any loss of cognitive function.
It’s important to note that the brain doesn’t really create new neurons in adulthood. On the other hand, the brain is very adaptable organ and can change how information flows through neural networks. So, when you suffer a TBI and lose cognitive function, your brain doesn’t respond by growing new neurons. Instead, it compensates by having other areas of the brain take over the cognitive function that was lost.
A good analogy is when someone doesn’t show up to work for a few days. Rather than letting their work pile up and go unassigned, it gets redistributed through the rest of the work force. This is much like what happens following a traumatic brain injury. Undamaged areas of the brain can take over the function of other areas, but this process takes time, as there’s a “learning curve.”
You Can Help the Process
The brain “heals” itself following a TBI by rerouting neural connections and dispersing a damaged neuron’s job throughout a new network. There are certain things you can do to expedite the process. Most importantly, you can take steps to prevent further brain injury, as multiple brain injuries can result in long-term issues or a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). If you’ve recently been diagnosed with a concussion or TBI, help your brain heal by:
- Getting plenty of rest. This includes sleep at night but also relaxing during the day. Taxing your brain will slow the healing process.
- Listening to your body. You may want to get back to your normal level of activity, but your brain might not be ready for it. Go slow, and don’t push yourself.
- Write it down. Even recalling information can be taxing for your healing brain. Write all important information down, as it might be more difficult for you to remember.
- Avoid caffeine, drugs, or alcohol. Mind-altering substances can disrupt the healing process.
- Eat healthy foods, particularly those high in omega-3 fatty acids. Examples include fatty fish like salmon and walnuts.
- Drink lots of water.
- Listen to your health care providers. They will tell you when it’s safe to drive a car, operate heavy machinery, or resume your normal level of activity.
- Avoid mentally or physically taxing activities like playing video games, reading, sports, exercise, or housework.
- Be patient. Remember, proper healing is a process that takes time.
The brain may heal itself, but it needs your help! Follow these tips to facilitate the process. If you suffered a traumatic brain injury because of someone else’s negligence, you could fight for pain, suffering, and loss of wages. Our brain injury attorneys help clients in Riverside, Orange County, Los Angeles, and throughout California. Contact the lawyers at Panish Shea & Boyle, LLP today about your case!