Exercises to Help After a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)1, traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when some form of trauma suddenly causes damage to the brain. A variety of scenarios can lead to this type of injury, including a violent blow to the head against an object or surface or an object entering the skull and piercing the brain tissue.

Brain injury symptom severity can vary greatly, depending on the accident and how badly the brain was injured. However, brain injury exercises can help those who have suffered a TBI recover both cognitively and physically. Our brain injury lawyer team shares what you should know.

traumatic brain injury (tbi)

What Are the Different Types of Cognitive and Physical Brain Injury Symptoms?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shares there are approximately 1.5 million traumatic brain injuries² each year in the United States. Some accident victims are more fortunate than others and experience only mild TBI symptoms. They may even substantially regain brain function after the initial brain swelling from the trauma goes down.

However, others will deal with lifelong issues, severe impairments, and an inability to participate in physical activity after a traumatic head injury. Here are common symptoms of TBI:

Cognitive Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury

Some common cognitive issues that arise with a brain injury can include:

  • Confusion
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Memory issues
  • Lack of understanding regarding time
  • Judgment issues
  • Decreased self-awareness
  • Inability to follow direction

young man suffering from memory loss after a car accident

Physical Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury

Physical issues that are often experienced after a TBI may include:

  • Paralysis or long-term weakness in parts of the body
  • Shortening of the muscles
  • Balance issues
  • Decreased reflexes
  • Lower endurance levels
  • Tremors
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Damage to blood vessels, which can lead to stroke or blood clots
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Can Exercise Help After Suffering From a TBI?

Exercises designed for TBI recovery patients can help to improve a person’s movement, strength, critical thinking, and concentration. Working with a physical or occupational therapist can help TBI victims speed up the healing process and work towards recovery goals.

It’s vital to work closely with your healthcare providers to develop an exercise program that is most beneficial for your symptoms. Let’s look at some common brain injury exercises used for head injury patients.

1. Sensory Exercises

It’s vital to stimulate multiple senses all at once to engage your brain fully. For example, if you go for a walk outside, pay attention to how the sun feels on your face and the sound of birds chirping. It may seem like a simple activity, but just engaging different parts of the brain can help retrain areas that have lost some of their function.

young man walking his dog as part of his sensory exercise

2. Hand Coordination

When you use one of your hands, there is a side of the brain that controls that hand. When you switch to the other hand or use them both simultaneously, the other side of the brain is also becoming engaged. This will help to strengthen the neurons in your brain.

If you have one side of the body that isn’t functioning like it should be, talk to your therapist about using that side of your body more often.

3. Balance Exercises

During the early days of your recovery, you may need to work on balance and holding up your body weight. Weight shifts are common beginner exercises that require you to stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, then shift your weight from side to side.

Your therapist may also recommend other forms of balance exercises, such as walking on different types of surfaces or inclines, using a yoga ball, or even practicing Tai Chi to help strengthen your muscles.

4. Reading Aloud

Listening, reading, and speaking each require different parts of the brain. Your therapist may recommend reading out loud to engage these parts of the brain and strengthen those skills. It can be very challenging to do this at first, so you may need to start slowly by just reading or listening to an audiobook while you follow along. Eventually, patients can work up to reading aloud.

dad reading aloud to his daughter to help with his tbi

5. Drawing

Drawing is another exercise recommended for some TBI patients. In many cases, a patient will be asked to draw something they should know in order to draw from memories or experiences. For example, the challenge could be to draw a map of the route you take from home to work or recreate an image of a clock that hangs in the kitchen.

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Can the Brain Recover From a Brain Injury?

Each brain injury is unique, which makes it difficult to determine what the outcome will be. Some people may have suffered a TBI after a car accident. Others may have a football brain injury or other sports-related TBI. Because of this, there are a number of factors that doctors will take into consideration to assess a person’s recovery prognosis, such as:

  • The person’s age
  • The type of injury
  • The person’s cognitive function prior to the injury
  • The person’s physical abilities before the TBI
  • Secondary complications 

Even patients with severe brain injuries have been known to make an impressive recovery. Prompt medical attention and the right team of doctors and therapists can increase a person’s chances of recovering and regaining independence.

How Long After a Brain Injury Can Symptoms Occur?

Some symptoms will present themselves immediately after an injury to the brain, such as loss of consciousness or paralysis. However, there are other symptoms that may not develop until days or weeks later3. The most common delayed symptoms include things like:

  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Inattentiveness
  • Headaches
  • Change in personality

woman experiencing fatigue due to her tbi

Work With an Experienced Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer

Have you or someone you know recently suffered a traumatic brain injury? You may be entitled to compensation to help with medical bills, therapy costs, and pain and suffering.

If you were hurt in an accident due to another person’s negligence, our experienced Las Vegas TBI attorneys are ready to help you every step of the way during your recovery. Contact us today for a free consultation on your case.

Sources:

1National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). (27 March 2019). Traumatic Brain Injury Information Page. Retrieved 25 March 2022.

2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (22 January 2016). Report to Congress: Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States. Retrieved 25 March 2022.

3Brazier, Y. (22 January 2018). Causes and effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Medical News Today. Retrieved 25 March 2022.