Help with Ongoing Symptoms

Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center
Ongoing Symptoms

Most people with concussion recover after their injury, however, a small percentage of people will experience symptoms (such as headaches, memory problems, irritability or fatigue) for a longer period of time. Although these symptoms might be related to the concussion, they often are caused by other injuries or factors that lengthen the recovery period. These factors can include age, gender, previous history of concussion, the presence of a psychological disorder or a learning disability, stress at home or work, and certain medications. Remember, not all symptoms improve at the same rate—some take longer than others.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Speak up. It’s important to communicate honestly and openly with your health care provider about symptoms that continue to bother you or interfere with your everyday life.
  • Keep track of your symptoms. Track ongoing changes in your symptoms or any new symptoms in a journal or mobile application (see back for examples). Share these changes with your health care provider to pinpoint possible causes and treatment options.
  • Support your recovery. Think about ways to help your brain and body heal now. Eat healthy foods, exercise and keep a regular sleep schedule. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Limit caffeine, especially energy drinks, which can hurt the quality of your sleep; limit alcohol consumption.
  • Seek ways to relax. Reduce stress by trying activities such as yoga, exercise, music or art. Talk with your health care provider about these options to complement your treatment.

Track Your Symptoms

Keep a journal of your symptoms like the one below and share it with your health care provider.

Date & Time Symptom What were you doing when you experienced the symptom (exercising, reading, etc.)? How long did your symptom last (i.e., seconds, hours)? What made you feel better/worse?
         
         
         
         
         
         
         

 

How can technology help?

  • CBT-i Coach
    CBT-i Coach is for people engaged in cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-i) with a health provider, or those who have experienced symptoms of insomnia and would like to improve their sleep habits. The app guides users through the process of learning about sleep, developing positive sleep routines and improving their sleep environments. It provides a structured program that teaches strategies proven to improve sleep and help alleviate symptoms of insomnia. Available on iTunes.
  • Concussion Coach
    Concussion Coach is a mobile app for veterans, service members and others who have symptoms of a concussion or mild-to-moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI). This app is intended to support face-to-face treatment with a health provider and provides portable, convenient tools for the patient to assess symptoms and cope with TBI"related problems. It is not intended to replace professional diagnosis, medical treatment, or rehabilitation therapies. Available on iTunes.
  • Breathe2Relax
    Breathe2Relax is a portable stress management tool. Breathe2Relax is a hands-on diaphragmatic breathing exercise. Breathing exercises have been documented to decrease the body's 'fight-or-flight' (stress) response, and help with mood stabilization, anger control, and anxiety management. Available on iTunes and Google Play.
  • LifeArmor
    Touch-screen technology allows the user to browse information on 17 topics, including sleep, depression, relationship issues, and post-traumatic stress. Brief self-assessments help the user measure and track their symptoms, and tools are available to assist with managing specific problems. Videos relevant to each topic provide personal stories from other service members, veterans, and military family members. Available on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon.
  • PE Coach
    PE Coach is the first mobile app designed to support the tasks associated with prolonged exposure treatment for PTSD. Providing hip-pocket access to the necessary tools for successful PE participation, the app includes audio recording capability for easy playback after sessions; tools to support patient tasks between sessions; and visual displays of symptom reduction over time. Available on iTunes and Google Play.
  • PTSD Coach
    PTSD Coach was developed by the Department of Veterans Affairs' National Center for PTSD in collaboration with T2. The goal was to develop a mobile application to assist Veterans and Active Duty personnel (and civilians) who are experiencing symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Available on iTunes and Google Play.
  • T2 Mood Tracker
    This free app lets you monitor and track your mood. The scales help you identify triggers that affect your mood. Available on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon.
  • Tactical Breather
    The Tactical Breather application can be used to gain control over physiological and psychological responses to stress. Through repetitive practice and training, anyone can learn to gain control of your heart rate, emotions, concentration, and other physiological and psychological responses to your body during stressful situations. Available on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon.

If you have thoughts or feelings of hurting yourself or others, seek emergency care. Call the Military/Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-TALK (8255), send a text to 838255 or chat online at veteranscrisisline.net. Another helpful resource is Military OneSource at: 800-342-9647 or MilitaryOneSource.mil.

Posted on BrainLine January 28, 2016

DVBIC is the TBI operational component of The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. DVBIC is proud to partner with the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard on this product.

Do you have questions about this fact sheet? Would you like to provide feedback? If so, email info@dvbic.org. Additional items can be ordered or downloaded at dvbic.dcoe.mil

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