What do you think happens to the brain after it is damaged by trauma? Scientists who study this issue say that spontaneous brain repair is quite limited following trauma except in the very young. However brain reorganization can be deliberately induced through a program involving intensive, structured mental or physical exercise, such as speech therapy, cognitive therapy or gait retraining. When brain reorganization does not proceed far, a person can be taught to compensate for permanent loss of memory or organizational skills through the use of a smart phone, tape recorder or lap top computer.
Stem Cell Therapy
Neuroscientists have discovered two areas of the human brain that continue to generate neurons throughout adult life, but these neurons remain within their zone of production and do not migrate to other brain areas. They have also discovered that certain kinds of stem cells, such as those from human skin, can develop into new brain cells with the right prompting. If a neurosurgeon injected stem cells into a damaged area of the human brain would those cells grow into new neurons and create functional synapses with neighboring brain cells? Clinical research is now underway under FDA supervision to find this out. One obstacle to effective stem cell therapy is that following a TBI glial cells known as oligo- dendricytes create scar tissue to stop bleeding and this scar tissue acts as a barrier to prevent stem cells linking up to create new networks with brain cells on the other side of the scar tissue.
What kinds of visual problems can result from a TBI? Examples are incomplete fusion of images with double vision, eye fatigue, difficulty reading, diminished peripheral vision and jittery vision. Learn about these visual and how neuro-optometrists can help with vision restoration therapies.
Technology Based Rehab
Like everything else in medicine technology is changing and improving brain injury rehab. Smart phones, PDAs, computer programs, neuro-feedback, adaptations of video games and virtual reality devices are all being used these days to help people with TBI to stay organized, complete tasks on time and develop their skills.
Can drugs help after a TBI? Yes. Although drugs cannot cure a TBI they can improve symptoms. Prescription drugs are routinely given for the headache, seizures, vertigo, loss of concentration, depression, apathy, anxiety, irritability and insomnia which follow a TBI. Learn more about these drugs, their side effects and interactions.
Is physical activity helpful to your recovery from TBI? Yes. Brisk exercise (such as fast walking or jogging with a companion) and Yoga in a group setting can overcome the passivity, lost confidence, social isolation, physical deconditioning and depression that accompany TBI.
What we eat, especially the types and amounts of fats, can help or harm cognitive processing speed, memory and mood. Learn to eat right after a TBI to maximize nutritional support of brain repair and brain function. Foods with saturated fats and transfats slow down brain function while foods high in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids speed it up. Eating too much sugar to ease depression puts you at risk of sugar cravings, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Returning to Work
Creative solutions exist for returning a person to work after a TBI. Consulting an expert in the Americans with Disabilities Act can help you modify how you performed your old job or locate a new job you can do. Find out what is available.
How much progress are you actually making while recovering from your TBI and how fast? Learn how brain injury rehab professionals make quantitative assessments of qualitative recovery from TBI. This can help you decide if you are at the right rehab facility.
Contact information for TBI rehab centers across the country. Some centers are in-patient only for persons with severe TBI. Others provide day treatment for persons with moderate or mild TBI.
A True and Inspirational Story of Recovery From TBI