March marks Brain Injury Awareness Month

March marks Brain Injury Awareness Month, a crucial period dedicated to raising awareness about the various facets of mTBI, its types, risks, symptoms, and associated conditions like depression, anxiety, memory issues, vertigo, auditory problems, vision problems, and sleep disturbances.

We all know someone who has experienced a sports injury, accident, falls, or combat incidents. Most mTBI (concussions) resolve on their own within 2-4 weeks with a lot of rest and a good return to work/play program. I myself have experienced an mTBI in 2022 while working as an RN after “apparently” getting kicked in the head while attempting to administer medications. I say apparently because I do not recall the impact and woke up looking at the ceiling. The damage done to my brain and the subsequent healing process has been much greater and longer than predicted by my team of specialists. In addition to working with functional medicine doctors during my recovery, seeking Gods Word and His Promises for my life throughout my healing journey has been invaluable and has played a significant role in where I’m at today..

According to a study conducted by Esterov D, Greenwald BD, a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is a complex pathophysiologic process that has a systemic effect on the body aside from solely an impairment in cognitive function. Dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) has been found to induce abnormalities in organ systems throughout the body, and may contribute to cardiovascular dysregulation and increased mortality.

One common not generally discussed complication associated with mTBI is dysautonomia, a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, leading to issues with blood pressure regulation, heart rate, digestion, and temperature control. Additionally, individuals with mTBI often experience mental health challenges like depression and anxiety, which can exacerbate the overall impact on their well-being. Physical symptoms such as IBS, vertigo, auditory problems, vision issues, and sleep disturbances are also prevalent among mTBI survivors. These symptoms significantly affect their quality of life and ability to perform daily activities. I personally experienced all of these symptoms except for temperature regulation. Some symptoms resolved after 3 months, other 6 months and 21 months later I’m still seeking treatments from my highly skilled acupuncturist Andrea Izquierdo, LAC at Bodhi TCM.

While traditional medical interventions often include medications aimed at managing symptoms, many individuals find limitations and side effects with these approaches. As a result, there is growing interest in natural and holistic therapies such as vision therapy, acupuncture, brain fueling supplements, and testing neurotransmitters and hormones.

Vision therapy, for instance, can help address visual disturbances and improve eye tracking and focusing abilities, which are commonly affected after mTBI. Acupuncture may aid in reducing pain and alleviating symptoms of dysautonomia and mood disorders. Brain fueling supplements targeting cognitive function and neurotransmitter balance might offer a more holistic approach to managing cognitive impairments.

Furthermore, testing neurotransmitter and hormone levels can provide valuable insights into the biochemical imbalances contributing to symptoms, enabling a more personalized and targeted approach to treatment.

Depression is a common problem after brain injuries. About half of all people with TBI are affected by depression within the first year after injury. In the general population, the rate of depression is much lower, affecting fewer than one person in 10 over a one-year period. More than half of the people with TBI who are depressed also suffer from significant anxiety. Seeking holistic care is a leading approach to brain injury recovery that includes physical, social, emotional, spiritual, and motivational care. Some alternative therapies that can be used for TBI include acupressure, mind-body practices, yoga, art therapy, practicing daily gratitudes, physical activity, prayer, good nutrition, spiritual counseling and music therapy.

TBI Awareness Month serves as a platform to shed light on the multifaceted nature of traumatic brain injuries and the importance of comprehensive care that addresses not only physical but also emotional and cognitive aspects of recovery. Embracing holistic approaches can offer a more comprehensive and effective strategy for managing the challenges associated with mTBI. If you know someone who has been struggling with chronic issues post mTBI (concussion), I encourage you to share this with them so they can finally find hope for their healing and know that there is someone who understands what they are experiencing. Healing in mind, body, spirit is possible when treatment is centered around a holistic care approach.

Short Prayer for Healing:

“Father, help me to keep my focus on You when the pain and hurt are overwhelming. Help me be faithful and see the good and blessings surrounding me. Please strengthen my mind, body, and soul and heal me today. May the Holy Spirit guide me in peace and comfort. Amen.”

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