March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, a time for us to recognize the importance of caring for the most complex, and arguably the most important, part of each person’s body. Even though it does all the thinking, we often fail to think about it – but having a well-protected and fit brain is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Brain injury can be caused in a variety of ways: by a heavy blow to the head or body, a wound that breaks through the skull, a fall, or any other jarring action that shakes the brain. Any of these can cause bruising, swelling, or tearing of brain tissue.
A brain injury can show itself in a multitude of ways. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and may last for hours, days, weeks, or even months. One obvious symptom is the inability to think clearly and remember new information, but headaches, vision problems, or dizziness are also key indicators. Brain injuries can also trigger emotions, including sadness, nervousness, or anger – and a person with a brain injury may also experience different sleep patterns, sleeping more or less than usual.
If you suffer from a brain injury and have any of these symptoms, it’s vital to consult a doctor. The doctor will be able to diagnose the injury using a variety of methods, including imaging tests (CT scans or MRIs), to check for brain bruising or bleeding. The doctor may also check for physical signs of an injury or ask questions that require the patient to pay attention, learn, remember, and solve problems.
Once testing is complete, the doctor will determine a course of action, with treatment depending on the type and severity of the brain injury. Common treatment plans include physical and occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, counseling, social support and support groups, and medicines.
But it’s not enough to merely treat a brain injury – afterward, recovery is essential. A brain injury is traumatic, so it’s important to stop doing tasks that are physically and mentally challenging. However, some tasks can boost the recovery process, including getting plenty of sleep, gradually returning to normal activities, and avoiding activities that make you feel worse. If any new problems arise during this recovery period, consult your doctor.
Brain injury can happen to anyone, at any time, and from a wide range of activities – even ones that on the surface may seem safe. So be smart … think about ways to keep your brain safe.
For more information on how to keep your brain healthy, go to capitalhealth.com.