human brain

Did you know that brain injuries occur in about 500 out of 100,000 people annually in the United States?

Symptoms of a head injury, which is broadly called traumatic brain injury (TBI), can stick around for weeks to months to even years but the “traumatic” part leads to a gross misunderstanding of those affected. It isn’t only triggered by severe car accidents; minor falls or even a picture frame falling on your head can have negative impacts on brain function. Having a TBI or brain injury increases the risk factors for many neurological illnesses such as epilepsy, stroke, and neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Parkinson’s disease.  

Most traditional avenues for head injuries start with a trip to the ER where they evaluate for any swelling or bleeding. The most common modality for this is a CT scan or sometimes an MRI.  Even if nothing is found in an acute setting, you should still be on the lookout for the following post-concussive symptoms:

  • headaches
  • dizziness/balance issues
  • brain fog
  • changes in hormones/cycles
  • trouble focusing or reading
  • changes in bowels/gut issues
  • insomnia
  • memory issues (especially short term)

The sooner you seek care, the greater your chance of therapy success, in some cases, you’re life will return to pre-injury status.

Identifying the areas of the brain that were damaged can reduce symptoms more rapidly and lead to a shorter recovery period as your care can be more targeted.  This is usually done via some traditional diagnostics such as imagining and a functional neurological exam. Specific nutritional and dietary intervention protocols can be formulated along with a neuro-rehab exercise program specifically targeted to the patient’s brain function. This normally includes working on vagus nerve stimulation to help regulate the nervous system, vestibular exercises to help reassess balance, and helping reestablish the tracking of the eyes for reading and focus, etc. 

As the brain has trauma, the oxygen supply is reduced due to the blood vessels to the brain constricting.  It is important to work to restore the blood flow to get key nutrients needed for healing by using things like nitric oxide support, hyperbaric therapy treatment, and even some routine exercise to help.  After an injury, the brain is hyper-excited and there is a rapid shift in brain chemistry partly regulated by the NMDA receptor. This acutely over-activated state can lead to cell damage and death in the neurons, much like a light burning out.  There are some nutrients that we find helpful during the acute phase of the injury and adding in nutrients like:

  • magnesium l threonate
  • taurine
  • NAC
  • acetyl L carnitine
  • P-choline

There can also be mitochondrial damage with TBIs. The mitochondria are parts of the cell that produce energy and their function is fundamental to life. Health mitochondrial function leads to more resources your body can use to heal. The damage to this process is what often leads to fatigue after head injuries.  Groups of nutrients such as B vitamins, glutathione, coq10, and DHA can play a key role in restoring the function.  Along with any injury there is always inflammation and the brain isn’t immune to this.  Key anti-inflammatories can help in mitigating this like resveratrol, and fish oils concentrated with DHA

Lastly, diet is the foundational piece of the puzzle. Increased good quality fats from coconut oil to olive oil along with consuming an adequate level of protein (usually 1 gram per pound of body weight) and cutting out sugars and simple carbs will not only speed up recovery, it may be necessary.

You don’t have to feel stuck or that your life will now be different after a TBI. Many great, specially trained doctors around the country may be able to help!