Advertising
Advertising

Unveiling Brain Injury Myths: How To Deal With the Enemy Within

Unveiling Brain Injury Myths: How To Deal With the Enemy Within

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is much more common than most of us realize. This general ignorance has given rise to some myths that get passed around whenever the subject does come up.

A child playing at school is injured and later suffers TBI. When this occurrence is mentioned among other students or their parents who hear something about the accident, a return to some of those myths rises again. TBI can happen any place and to anyone. It is often the result of a traffic accident, or on a playing field, even while wearing protective headgear. In years past, no one dreamed of wearing any sort of helmet while riding a bicycle and most people had the impression that motorcycle helmets were more of a fashion statement than head protection.

Advertising

Sometimes physicians and others refer to TBI as a concussion. This is in actuality much more common and pervasive than most ever realize. It is estimated by the Center for Deployment Psychology that between 10% and 20% of service members who have served in places such as Iraq suffer from head trauma. While this is a serious subject and not always clearly understood, a good number of myths about brain injury have become so common as to be generally accepted as true. Here are a few:

1. Many believe that unless a person loses consciousness he or she won’t suffer from any lingering TBI.

Over the years, this too has been under debate, but today, the medical community as well as the mental health profession tends more and more to agree that a severe concussion can and does occur without the patient losing consciousness.

Advertising

2. Many believe that today’s modern body and head armor protects our military from what might previously have been more severe or even fatal injuries.

There is truth in this, but while body armor does offer more protection than our military has had in the past, it can only do so much. A Kevlar helmet may be helpful in preventing objects from actually cutting into the brain, but it cannot always protect the victim from closed-wound head trauma. And to date, no helmet can stop a direct hit by a projectile from a weapon such as a rifle. Even when a helmet deflects shrapnel or a bullet, the actual damage inflicted by the sharp blow to the head can cause TBI.

3. Many believe that if there is no bleeding, there will be no TBI.

While brain injuries may be open wounds, known as penetrating wounds, or blunt, i.e. closed wounds in which the skin is not broken, either can and often does cause TBI. Often, not seeing any sign of bleeding, it is assumed that a little rest will cure the victim’s trauma and the injury will be quickly forgotten.

Advertising

The truth, however, is that although there may be no external signs of bleeding, there can be internal damage with bleeding that can cause pervasive and long-lasting neurological as well as psychological conditions in a patient, such as having trouble going to sleep or staying asleep especially if there are heavy medications involve. This issue can be lessened by using alternative methods such as using any white noise machine available instead of getting another set of medicines for sedation. Unfortunately, some other symptoms of TBI are frequently so subtle and pervasive that no one even recognizes them as TBI. For years, the victim may feel that something isn’t quite right, but with time, one adjusts to this new, if unpleasant condition.

4. Another common belief is that mild TBIs are not going to slow a person down.

Even mild TBIs can and do have a subtle and long-lasting consequence in the area of neurological and psychological functions. That means that even a mild case of TBI can affect a person’s thought patterns and emotional levels as well. The severity of these may be quite mild or rise to a point where the person can no longer be a useful and pleasant member of society.

Advertising

Even mild TBI can cause physical symptoms as well causing a variety of problems ranging from simple headaches to confusion, slowed thought processes, extreme mood swings, and many others by which most of them can’t be detected by Vicks thermometer or Littmann stethoscopes. Just because brain scans show nothing, does not indicate that a patient is fully recovered and a good many other debilitating and life disturbing afflictions may go on undiagnosed for years to come.

When a household finds itself with a family member who has suffered from TBI, the difficulties in their relationships can be strained and may present a set of problems for which the family was not prepared. Lack of understanding about TBI can cause family members to think the victim is simply being confrontational or argumentative, or in a bad mood. In any case, they see the victim more and more as a disruptive member of the household and patience wears thin. The list below will help you know what you should do:

  • It is important for family members to assure themselves that the patient is getting proper care.
  • Family members can and should make every effort to demonstrate their concern and sympathy.
  • It may be necessary to help the victim seek out help.
  • It is important that the victim know and remember that the family cares and loves him or her.
  • The victim of TBI should be included as much as possible in any family concerns or planning.
  • Family members should always treat a person with TBI with respect and compassion.
  • Sometimes, as a concerned family member, it may help to possibly be the first down to sit down so the victim can open up and will be able to tell about their mental issues.
  • An offer of help, or even simply to listen may be encouraging.
  • Lastly, it is important however, not to push a victim of TBI too quickly, but to encourage the person slowly to warm up to the idea of listening to what family members have to say.

These are only a few thoughts and ideas about TBI, what it does to its victims and its effect on family members. Whenever possible, the family should seek assistance, particularly if it is suspected that the victim may be having thoughts of harming himself. There are many avenues for help and it is important to learn about these as quickly as possible.

More by this author

Junie Rutkevich

Game Developer of iXL Digital

8 Things You Should Consider Looking At When Buying A Home, Part 2 Zinc: The Usually Forgotten Micronutrient We Need Daily and Its Food Source How to Make Sure What You Sell Is What the Market Needs 7 Things To Consider Before Hiring An Advertising Agency Is It Necessary To Follow Traffic Rules?

Trending in Brain

1 How to Improve Your Memory: 7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways 2 What Causes Brain Fog? (7 Things You Can Do to Prevent and Stop It) 3 How to Improve Your Brain Memory Naturally: Foods to Eat And Skip 4 15 Ways Meditation Benefits Your Brain Power and Your Mood 5 Do Memory Supplements Work? 10 Supplements to Boost Brain Power

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on February 21, 2019

How to Improve Your Memory: 7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways

How to Improve Your Memory: 7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways

How is your memory? Is your cognitive function as strong as you’d like it to be?

If not, then you’re definitely going to be interested in the memory improvement tips I’ll be sharing with you in this article.

Despite what you might think – or have been told – improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it. (Don’t worry, as you won’t need to make any significant lifestyle changes.)

So how to improve memory? Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve your memory significantly.

1. Meditate

We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts and figures into our conscious minds.

Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. And research suggests that the more information and distractions, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory.[1]

Fortunately, meditation can help you out.

Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

If you need help in shifting into a meditative state, I recommend trying an app like Headspace – which can assist you to achieve this in a convenient and structured way.

And don’t forget, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

2. Get plenty of sleep

If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then I’m guessing you’re not remembering well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities – including your memory.

How much sleep should you be getting?

Advertising

Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things.

Now, I’ll be honest with you, maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!). But if you care about improving your short-term and long-term ability to remember things, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

Are there ways to hack the sleep cycle?

Yes, there are.

Try these three things:

  • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
  • Don’t eat too late
  • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory…

3. Challenge your brain

When was the last time you challenged your brain?

I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or undersleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and memory games.

To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself, has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-thinking ability and memory.

There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

  • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live – while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it, try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

Advertising

4. Take more breaks

When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctively remember working all the hours under the sun – and many under the moon too!

At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat and tears.

However, I was wrong.

Taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

Let me explain.

Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it – in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

Namely, extended study sessions are rarely a good thing, as your ability to retain information naturally declines after a certain period of time.

It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

It’s the same with your brain. If you overload it with information, you’ll suffer from mental fatigue.

What’s the answer?

Make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

If you don’t want to be as regimented as that, then take breaks as soon as you find yourself losing the ability to focus on the new material. Your brain will thank you – and your learning aptitude will move up a level.

5. Learn a new skill

I love this quote, as it’s 100% true – but frequently overlooked:

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

Let me give you an example of this:

Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day – many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you – rather than letting you work in your own way.

Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like, and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction in to learning a new skill (computer coding). It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career – and the ongoing learning made the call centre job much more bearable.

Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking our new information. And when learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly, becomes a habit too.

6. Start working out

If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory.

Regular exercise increases blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. And a well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

“But I just don’t have the time?,” I hear you say.

Not a problem.

A research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise, offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines.[2] So, if you’re short on time – now you know what to do.

Interested in getting started?

Advertising

Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

  • Join a gym
  • Join a sports team
  • Buy a bike
  • Take up hiking
  • Dance to your favorite music

7. Eat healthier foods

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

This applies to your brain too.

The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health too.

Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery and dark chocolate. But anything high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory.

Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain – leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

Want to be mentally healthy? Then eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

  • Turmeric – helps new brain cells grown
  • Broccoli – protects the brain against damage
  • Nuts – improves memory
  • Green tea – enhances brain performance, memory and focus[3]
  • Fish oilfish oil supplements can increase your brain power

Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

Final thoughts

I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be of help to you.

You don’t need to implement them all. I suggest just trying the ones that appeal to you.

But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested. I’m confident you won’t regret it.

More Resources About Boost Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next