Recent advances in the field of neuroplasticity have been able to prove how your brain is hardwired and genetically designed to heal, change and even rewire itself after all types of traumas, including but not just limited to brain injuries. Research also explains how your brain changes, and how, with the support of a rehabilitation team, you can retrain your brain to be similar, if not better than before the trauma.
Brain injuries are quite common. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over 700,000 Australians have a brain injury, with daily “activity limitations” and “participation restrictions”. Three in every four of these people are aged 65 or under. As many as two out of every three acquired their brain injury before the age of 25. Three-quarters of people with a brain injury are men.
The fastest improvement happens in about the first six months after injury. During this time, the injured person will likely show many improvements and may seem to be steadily getting better. The person continues to improve between six months and two years after injury, but this varies for different people and may not happen as fast as the first six months. Improvements slow down substantially after two years but may still occur many years after injury. Most people continue to have some problems, although they may not be as bad as they were early after injury. Rate of improvement varies from person to person.
It is common and understandable for family members to have many questions about the long-term effects of the brain injury on the injured person’s ability to function in the future. Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine the long-term effects for many reasons.
The more severe the injury the less likely the person will fully recover. The length of time a person remains in a coma and duration of loss of memory (amnesia) following the coma are useful in predicting how well a person will recover, I guess I was just an exceptional case.
Over the past 5+ years, I have had to work extremely hard to get to where I am today. Four years ago, if you told me in four years time you will be married with two kids I would have laughed in your face. I had to retrain my brain to walk, talk, eat, communicate – you name it. I still have trouble at times trying to say what’s in my head. When I’m tired, I slur when I’m speaking – it’s as if I’m drunk. AND on top of all that I suffer at times with my fatigue, I get so run down it’s hard for me to do anything.
No matter what age you are, your brain has the ability to form new connections and neurons, a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity. In a way, your brain is like a muscle – the more the use it, the stronger it gets! Did you know that every time you learn something new, your brain forms a new connection? Participating in leisure activities that keep you thinking and learning (such as reading, playing board games, playing musical instruments or dancing) will help keep your mind sharp over time. However, cognitive abilities like memory and mental focus aren’t the only ways that you can exercise neuroplasticity – you can also train your brain to think happier thoughts, stop eating bad foods, or turning to alcohol or drugs during stressful moments by using a technique called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Retraining your brain isn’t an easy task, and it can take time to overwrite old neural pathways with new ones, below are some ways to achieve a stronger brain.
- Don’t try to change everything all at once. The gradual approach is the surest way to success!
- Believe you can do it. If you don’t believe in yourself, you will never achieve your goals.
- Reward yourself for the small successes. When you reach your short-term goals, give yourself a pat on the back… but don’t celebrate with substances that harm your brain.
I chose to add the next video, I really admire Andrew’s attitude – he reminds me so much of myself. Even with Cerebral Palsy he pushes himself and takes on challenges that people without a disability wouldn’t take on. He was transferred to a normal high school from a special school which is amazing in itself and is currently completing a masters degree in disability studies – GO ANDREW! His outlook on life is quite amazing for a person with a disability, I know myself how hard it can be at times to think positively about our situations.
Regular physical activity has so many benefits to every part of the body… well, close to. Some benefits include:-
Controlling your weight. Along with diet, exercise plays an important role in controlling your weight and preventing obesity.
Reducing your risk of heart diseases. Exercise strengthens your heart and improves your circulation.
Helping your body manage blood sugar and insulin levels. Exercise can lower your blood sugar level and help your insulin work better. This can cut down your risk for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. And if you already have one of those diseases, exercise can help you to manage it.
Helping you quit smoking. Exercise may make it easier to quit smoking by reducing your cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It can also help limit the weight you might gain when you stop smoking.
Improving your mental health and mood. During exercise, your body releases chemicals that can improve your mood and make you feel more relaxed. This can help you deal with stress and reduce your risk of depression.
Helping keep your thinking, learning, and judgement skills sharp as you age. Exercise stimulates your body to release proteins and other chemicals that improve the structure and function of your brain.
Strengthening your bones and muscles. Regular exercise can help kids and teens build strong bones. Later in life, it can also slow the loss of bone density that comes with age. Doing muscle-strengthening activities can help you increase or maintain your muscle mass and strength.
Reducing your risk of some cancers, including colon, breast, uterine, and lung cancer.
Improving your sleep. Exercise can help you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Improving your sexual health. Regular exercise may lower the risk of erectile dysfunction (ED) in men. For those who already have ED, exercise may help improve their sexual function. In women, exercise may increase sexual arousal.
Increasing your chances of living longer. Studies show that physical activity can reduce your risk of dying early from the leading causes of death, like heart disease and some cancers.