Exercise is good for you when you’re healthy, but did you know that it can also be beneficial after suffering a traumatic brain injury? Research has proven that physical activity can improve mobility, coordination, and cognitive ability. That means a better quality of life for someone who has suffered an injury.
Traumatic Brain Injury Defined
What is a traumatic brain injury and how can it change a person’s ability to function in daily life? The term describes brain damage that is brought on by external force. The way this happens varies, but the most common causes of injury include car accidents, falls, sports, and accidents at work.
The severity of the injury and recovery time will vary from one case to the next. A number of factors come into play that can add to the overall risk and effects after the incident. These include:
- Age of victim
- Severity of impact
- Availability of medical assistance at the scene
Along with physical pain and damage, a traumatic brain injury can also bring on a number of mental-health related conditions including anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia, and mood swings.
Traumatic Brain Injury Happens More than You Think
It is estimated that 1.6 million people in Australia are suffering from brain damage right now. That statistic includes all types of injury, including those related to substance abuse and disease. Regardless of the cause, that’s still a staggering number of injured people.
Traumatic Brain Injury Risk Factors
Are you at risk for a brain injury? While no one is immune, there are certain groups of people who are more likely to find themselves injured. The following risk factors can increase the likeliness of injury:
- Participating in sports, especially cycling
- Abuse of alcohol (50% of brain injuries involve alcohol use)
- Males are more likely to suffer a brain injury
- Certain professions, including transportation workers, construction workers, & soldiers
Along with the above factors, your age group could indicate a higher risk. Typically, the very young and very old are more likely to experience brain damage. The age groups who are the most at risk include:
- Children under the age of 4
- Teenagers and young adults ages 15 to 24
- Elderly adults over age 75
Physical Activity After a Traumatic Brain Injury
Physical activity can be very helpful after suffering a traumatic brain injury. Before you start exercising, make sure it is not too soon after the injury. The key things to remember are to start gradually and work with a physiotherapist. So which type of workout is best for a traumatic brain injury?
- Flexibility & Balance Training
This type of exercise will improve coordination, balance, and range of motion, which is vital for independence. Better flexibility will also lessen stiffness and pain. Always stretch and warm up before you begin.
- Resistance Training
Resistance training will help patients improve strength, balance, and bone density. Using resistance tubing, dumbbells, body weight, or selectorised machines twice a week or more can have a significant impact.
- Cardio Workouts
Cardio exercise increases oxygen in the brain. This improves brain function while rhythmic movements have a positive effect on cognitive ability. Patients should start slow, with no more than 20 to 30 minutes of cardio per session under the supervision of a doctor.
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