The brain is one of the best-protected organs in the human body, but this doesn’t mean it’s 100% safe from injury. Whether you get involved in a car accident, slip and fall in the bathroom, or play a contact sport, there is always a chance of brain injury if the skull absorbs a huge amount of force (from a hit).
The good news is that the brain can heal. However, depending on the level of damage and type of injury, you will need plenty of rest and possibly some brain injury rehabilitation. Some people even have to re-learn things we take for granted such as speech or walking.
But, besides making sure you work with a reliable brain specialist, there are also a few other things you can do to speed up recovery.
1. Understand What Area of Your Brain Was Injured and How That May Affect Your Physical Movements
Different parts of the brain are responsible for different functions such as speaking, thinking, controlling vital organs, regulating hormone production, and so on. This is why brain injuries that require surgery don’t always fit under the same surgery specialities and may require the attention of several specialists.
For instance, if your injury is located at the back of the head, your cerebellum may be the one supporting the consequences. This brain formation is rather small (about 10% of the brain’s volume), but it contains a lot of neurons since it is responsible for various physical tasks such as movement, balance, posture, and coordination. If this area gets injured, you may have trouble maintaining balance or moving your limbs in a coordinated fashion.
On the other hand, if your injury is located at the front of the head (the forehead or top of the head), you may injure the frontal and parietal lobes. These two brain formations are in charge of cognitive functions, short-term memory, and processing sensory information (among others). Therefore, an injury in this area may affect your abilities to think, plan, or sense temperature changes, taste, or touch.
2. Have a Healthy Sleep Schedule
Sleep plays an important role when it comes to brain health. When we sleep the brain works hard on strengthening existing neural pathways and building new ones based on our behaviour during the day.
Plus, the part of the brain that’s responsible for learning and creating new memories needs sleep to improve. There are also a few recent studies that show the brain is performing a few intensive housekeeping processes while we sleep. This may be one of the reasons why we wake up refreshed after a nap or a good night’s sleep.
3. Resume Your Life in Small Steps
If your doctor gives you the approval to return to regular activities, prior to the injury, they will also tell you to take it slow. And you should listen to them!
The brain is where all your actions start and develop, so you don’t want to shock it back into action after a couple of weeks of lazing around. Follow doctor’s orders and re-immerse yourself in normal life one step at a time.
4. Have a Healthy Diet with Focus on Brain Power
While most of the foods we consume come with nutrients that are helpful to the brain and body, there are also foods that can boost your brain’s fitness level such as blueberries or Omega3 fatty acids.
Plus, fruits that contain high amounts of vitamin C (kiwi, tomatoes, oranges, or strawberries) help strengthen brain cells and protect them against various damaging factors. There are even studies that show vitamin C, at healthy levels, may help prevent Alzheimer’s, which is an age-related cognitive decline.
Additionally, leafy greens such as kale, broccoli, or spinach come with high amounts of vitamin K (among other beneficial nutrients). Vitamin K is known to help reduce oxidative stress and has anti-inflammatory benefits. Plus, it helps support the brain cell structure by providing the necessary support for a special class of lipids widely present in the brain.
Lastly, a healthy diet must exclude foods and ingredients that may bring your system out of balance. A diet based mainly on refined foods, saturated fats, sugary foods, soft drinks, and others in the same category can lead to various health conditions and may even create a chemical imbalance in your brain which may increase your risk for depression.
Overall, it’s best to have a varied diet with a focus on healthy foods that bring nutrients and vitamins into the bloodstream. When your body has all the building blocks it needs to create new and healthy tissue, the recovery process is smoother and faster.
5. Stay in Touch With Your Doctor
The brain is a sensitive organ and complete healing can take a long time. That’s why it’s important to keep seeing your doctor even after you’ve been cleared to return to work. Also, if you decide to apply any extra tips to speed up your recovery (including the tips mentioned here), make sure to first discuss the situation with your healthcare provider.
Each injury is different and each individual reacts differently to various stimuli. So, to avoid doing anything to aggravate the situation, check with your doctor first.
Nadine Westwood is a health coach and writer who helps her clients achieve phenomenal and sustainable results by combining nutrition, fitness and fun! She believes primarily in living a happy life, and that the backbone of any lifestyle is that it must be sustainable and enjoyable.