Fatigue After Brain Injury: Getting Tired of Being So Tired

Fatigue After Brain Injury: Getting Tired of Being So Tired

My 28-year-old son was seriously injured in a car accident two years ago and suffered a critical brain injury. He can't walk and is still unable to straighten his legs. What seems to bother him more than anything is how utterly exhausted he is all the time. He was always such an energetic young man and finds the exhaustion terribly frustrating because it prevents him from working as hard as he would like to in physical therapy. How long will the extreme bouts of exhaustion last?


Fatigue is a common problem after brain injury. Estimates of the incidence of fatigue for individuals with TBI range from 50-80 percent. Depression, pain, sleep disturbance, and neuroendocrine abnormalities all have been associated with fatigue after TBI.

You should talk to your son’s physician about this problem so a careful evaluation can be done. Many of the medications that are used to treat spasticity, seizures, and mood can cause fatigue or sleepiness. Sleep disorders are seen in about 30 percent of people TBI even years after injury. In some cases, an overnight sleep study allows you to get a proper diagnosis and decide on treatment. Endocrine problems are becoming increasingly recognized as a cause of fatigue. Low thyroid, low adrenalin, low testosterone, and low growth hormone can all contribute to fatigue. There is a lot of current research being conducted on low growth hormone and how to best assess and treat this increasingly recognized problem.

In some people with TBI — if no cause of fatigue can be found — their doctors often consider stimulants. Common stimulants used include amantadine, methylphenidate (Ritalin), detroamphetamine/ amphetamine (Adderall), modafinil (Provigil), and armodafinil (Nuvigil). Make sure you take your son to a doctor who has experience treating people with brain injury and with using these medications.

Posted on BrainLine June 9, 2011. Reviewed July 26, 2018.

Comments (90)

Please remember, we are not able to give medical or legal advice. If you have medical concerns, please consult your doctor. All posted comments are the views and opinions of the poster only.

so drained I can not even read this........... please help at least get through the day

I am almost 5 years post accident. My Neuro Fatigue has been incredibly hard the last 6 weeks. I am paralyzed. Please help

Did you get help?

Oh my having fatigue for that long. That’s so horrible. I wish medical science had more treatment for us older folks- we are just cast aside.

I've been fighting this extreme head pain & fatigue from my tbi since 2014. Between this & the nausea, waking up after a few hours of bad sleep, going for days only sleeping a bit because my head pain is so bad, debating weather it's worth it getting up to work . . . over & over, day after day. I'm lucky I can still do anything, I realize the results of being hit by a reckless driver could have been much worse. I'm learning to do things in new ways. I am so tired. I wish there were good doctors where I am. I can't take pain killers, I have had horrible reactions to biologics & botox. I can't quit, continuing is so difficult. I almost forgot the memory issues.

I had a TBI in 1995 was in a coma for three days and the hospital for four months I have since been married for 20 years and have three children I am on disability because of my severe brain damage but my major fatigue is even worse I have no choice but to push myself to cook and shop for my family and even though my husband is very patient and understanding of my condition I feel my children have suffered the most from not having their mom my husband travels a lot and all I do is sleep I feel so guilty and I have been to every doctor and tried every supplement I could afford with no luck I don’t have the energy to keep fighting I am also majorly depressed because of this is there any support groups or any solutions to permanent brain damage and fatigue

Wow, this what I have been dealing. I was hit by a car going 70mph on my bike when I was 12 years old. Had swelling of the brain, was in the hospital for a month had to be on a 504 plan to finish school. I was a dental assistant for years, and would fall asleep during the procedures. Would have to take alot of bathroom breaks and set my phone alarm and sleep for 5 mins just to cope with how tired I was. I'm now not working but a Mother of three kids, and my poor babies are the ones that have suffered the most I can sleep 20 plus hours a day, usually three days in a row and then I have two days where I can function with only 12 hours then back to the 20 plus hours. I have 15 alarms set for mornings for school, my husband has to call me at least 50 times before I can wake. When I do wake I feel so disoriented I can barley walk. And once my children are off to school I go back to bed untill they get home. It has effected my marriage and my ability to be a good mommy. I'm glad I'm not alone have you found anything that helps, seems the older I get the worse my short term and fatigued iam, I thought maybe I could have narcolepsy. Have you found any answers or anything that has helped?

I fell off A 30-foot roof onto A concrete driveway and was in A coma for three months I sleep all the time and have no energy I’m worried I’ll lose my family

I hope you didn’t loose your family

I was involved in a RTA 29 years ago I had a brain injury I'm on ESA and pip I went for my medical up Arden house for my ESA I get so tired and it takes all my time to do things and get motivated those people who give you a medical just dont care cause he signed me of support and put me on work activity group I did a course the last time i did the course I got no help I had a big folder to fill out I find hard to retain information so I just went and I never did the work I'm finding I put thing places and I cant remember its shocking that the DWP have put me from support to work activity

I'm so sorry this happened to you.
Just know that your husband and children are happier to be in a world that has you--even a tired version of you--than a world without you. I know because my husband suffered a brain injury last year and is still tired all the time. Sometime sleeping 4 hrs during the day. But even when I'm sad or angry about this, I'm joyful to have him. And I'm so grateful that our son still has a father.
Please reach out to a support group. I don't know where you live, but many states have them. If that's not an option try your GP.

I suffered concussion 3 months ago. Heavy object fall on my head. I was told it will take up to 5 days to get rid of all symptoms. It has been 3 month post injury and I can barely get through my day. I am a vegetable by 12 pm, start having trembling hands, headache, sleepiness, fatigue and muscle weakness.

It is very frustrating, I am not performing even 1/3 of activity I used to (before I got hit in a head). Doctor performed CT scan, only found arachnoid cyst in my frontal lobe, which is unrelated to injury. He sent me to another neurologist for further evaluation. I was perfectly healthy before though.

I don't know what exactly causing such bad fatigue, but it makes my life absolutely miserable. I am afraid it is going to last forever.

Your brain cells were damaged, it takes a long time to create new Neuro pathways. One baby step at a time

So sorry to hear that, I’m suffering with fatigue aswell. I’m not to bad just potteting around at home. But when I’m working I tire extremely fast. I think is caused by brain not being able to process so well, so gets fatigued very quickly . I thinking of taking creatine to hopefully improve energy.

I am a brain injury survivor and fatigue is a symptom from my/ our brain injury , i was told through health care workers that i have to learn to manage the fatigue pace myself , it,s important when i am tired to sit rest for 20 -30 minutes quiet all by myself . or lie down . stop and rest . it will never go away i have to learn to manage the fatigue , it sucks but thats how i have to live Brain injured people should never rush or push quickly when you are tired .. no smoking , no drinking alcohol for brain injured people

I had two non malignant brain tumours removed March 2017. One was attacking my cranial artery, the other was imbedded deeply in my right eye socket bone attached to the optic nerve. I have a titanium plate and screws holding what's left of my eye socket together. My right eye was shut for 6 months and it was considered a miracle that it opened. The right side of my face still suffers from a weird painful numbing sensation and always will. I have been told its permanent. The screws that are obvious and can be easily seen, still hurt if someone even slightly touches them. The doctor claims he removed both tumours. I know that I am lucky to be alive, truly. What I cannot handle, is the extreme fatigue I still have. I struggle walking upstairs. I have to use a railing and it has been 2 years! I used to be so active, at the gym 7 days a week. Now I struggle to put on a pair of pants. I still have headaches and my overall body just aches all the time. I take ibuprofen occasionally when I just cant take it anymore, but I don't want to be dependent on meds. I just don't understand how years later I can be this exhausted all the time. I work, come home and lay on couch until its time for bed. I have no quality of life. My family thinks that I am using my brain surgery as an excuse because they don't understand how I can still be so tired. I am frustrated and often wonder if it would have been better to just die on the table. I am not sure if "this is normal" or if there is something, anything I can do to get my life back. I feel for everyone who has gone or is going through brain surgery.

I suffered a ruptured brain aneurism 15 years ago, I still have fatigue, but I'm also diabetic and 58, so hormones may be a contribution. I try to get 8 hours of sleep every night, I work full time, come home exhausted, pain everywhere. But I'm surviving. I just wish i had more energy! Prayers for everyone. It's not easy! But, we're all blessed to be here to tell our stories! ROCK on!

Hi everyone.

I suffered a major TBI after falling 35ft from a ladder at my job and landed on cement. I don't remember the fall. I was airlifted to a hospital unresponsive and seizing. cat scan showed a midline shift due to 2 blood vessels broken in frontal cortex. 13 hr brain surgery with craniotomy and 2 weeks in a coma with a broken jaw.

It's now 13 years later and I work as a car mechanic. Been married since '04. Shortly after the accident, my wife got cancer. I was super vigilant and was with her every second.

After things calmed down, I found myself extremely tired and run down. As I started to get my life in order, I noticed that I just didn't have the energy anymore. My brain is tired by 3 pm and I just have enough energy to drive home, eat and go to sleep. My wife argues with me that I'm just lazy and the brain injury is just an excuse to not do anything.

I've also no impulse control and have cheated on my wife. I don't understand why. So now I'm just lazy and a cheater and I can't seem to do anything right anymore. I doubt myself all the time. I'm an anti-social sociopath with no sense of empathy. I feel like a train wreck. I can't afford health insurance, so seeing a neuropsychologist is out of the question. think about suicide sometimes.

I find it very hard to talk to my wife about this because she got her life back together after cancer and she thinks the brain injury shouldn't be any different. She says I should stop crying about it and get my life in order. So to all you out there in the world dealing with a TBI and shitty things you feel about yourself after having a TBI, my heart and tears go out to you. I'm a grown ass man of 41 years and I can't get my shit together, so I understand.

Oh bless you, you've had it tough! I till can't kick the deep fatigue I feel (3 years after a grapefruit size meningioma was removed from my brain) The fatigue is crippling, but I try not to dwell on it, as there seems to be no cure!
Wishing you the very best, all you fatigue sufferers out there. It's no picnic, so we need patience - from ourselves, and from our loved ones. Rock on!!

Hi - i suffered very similar things after a car accident/come/hospitalization about a year ago and a TBI - have you had any luck? I am downing coffee just to stay awake and another sufferer suggested testosterone pills - any luck for you?

Good evening.. Thank you for this post i have the same problems after multiple near fatal car and semi accidents then four years ago i survived an accidental sawed off shotgun blast to the face up through my frontal lobe now there's pellets in my head that can't be removed till they work themselves out i am a 40 year old that cant get approved for disability or get motivated to get onto my feet at anytime of the day. I call myself lazy and useless for this, but cannot do anything about it.. Your not alone.. And now i know i am not alone in this struggle... The only real comfort i enjoy in life now is jesus, my wife and daughters

It took me 4 years to get on disability and 3 tries. In the last 3 years, getting Social Security has become even more difficult than when I got it 25 years ago.

You need your own doctor to say you have life limiting conditions and a good attorney. The attorney can take 35-40% of your first check, but at least you can get approved.

Social Security sent me to their own "specialists" for any medical issues I had. These doctors specialize in telling you your fine and rejecting that part of your diagnosis. Keep steadfast. Keep applying. The squeaky wheel and all.

That's how it worked for me, anyway.

I wish you the best.

"The only real comfort i enjoy in life now is jesus, my wife and daughters"

Michael, It's encouraging to see that you have faith in God. I'm thankful for all the medical support that we have, but they can only deal with the physical or mental problems. The most valuable thing that we have is our faith in God. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” When no one else has been where you are when suffering and confused, feeling hopeless, there is Jesus! And we can talk to Him any time day or night. “Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7. Several years ago I hit the top my head very hard two different times while climbing up onto a scissor lift. I went right down to the ground and laid there for while praying then got up and went back to work. When I turn my head I can hear faint cracking sound. Other than that no headaches thank God! But, I've wondered if that accident has affected some of my short-term memory? My wife doesn't understand why I can't remember some simple things and yet I can remember some details way back to before I was 5 years old!

I was in 2 major car accidents..

1st one 2 artificial discs 2nd one TBI

Before perfectly healthy...

Now I have black circles in my vision not really interested in anything and just the whole world is completely different in many ways of how I knew it....Tired all the time

Before I probably would agree with your wife, but having this there is no way anyone even the doctors understand it... I said if you were in my body to most people I believe would not be able to cope with it...

That being said I commend you on any task you might be able to do because I completely know what your going through...best wishes

Everything and anything you ever do or think requires brain power.
Think about it.

Neurofatigue acquired after brain injury. Once the neurons depleted, then you may see.

Neurofatigue, it has a hold on me.
Neurofatigue, a consequence of brain Injury.
Everything I hear and everything I see wears me out and drains all of my energy literally it's called neurofatigue.

Due to the extra effort and attention it takes to do even simple activities such as walking or talking clearly contributes to Neurofatigue.
Neurofatigue, it has s hold in me.

As tears roll out of my eyes after reading your story, I totally understand what your going through! I have had 2 brain tumors, one 23yrs ago and my other 7yrs ago and ever since I have been told by my old best friend I have no feelings for anyone, I find myself very hateful at times. I am so ridiculously tired alot and can't preform like I used too. I've brought this up to Dr's and they say it has nothing to do with my past brain tumors. If I could just switch heads with them for a day I think they would understand. They say I'm tired because I'm a mother of two and my job; childcare. I am chronically depressed and hold everything in. I know it's because of what I've been through but it seems no one understands. I cry alot and feel like a failure and yes thought about suicide but I have so much to live for! My family means the world to me, even though they might not believe or realize why I'm exhausted alot. It's really tough and wish someone could help me feel normal. My thoughts and feelings go out to you and only wish we could get the right help, I will pray for you!! So no you shouldn't stop crying about it, it is so differcult and seems no one understands!

Hi I'm isaac I know what it's like to I'm 18 years old I've had two brain injuries one moderate the other borderline severe and three concussions I wrecked my 1998 electraglide when I hit a gravel patch it was 11 40 degrees out and I had on a light jacket I didnt go fully prepared I went down on the left side hit my hea don pavement my leg got caught on the fearing the. The bike flipped it rolled since my leg was stuck I went with the bike and got slammed on my right side then the bike rolled over me I got hit on the back of my head and knocked out for I would say 10 minutes and when I came to I had an open would on my head 4 inch long half inch deep I was in and outta the hospital that night they took me I would live and to suck it up my second injury came a month later when I had worked a thirteen hour shift at still water I was running a stand for osu cooking the hotdogs so driving back I was extremely tired I feel asleep in the car and my eyes came open when my head was going thru the windshield on my left every since that accident I have never been right probably wont ever be and no one understand my persistent fatigued feel all the time like it don't matter how much I sleep I'm tired and I have had persistent headaches as well and my ears will bleed at times I'm always nauseous and I get moody as well and every one of my friends say just because I'm jacked up doesn't make me any different but they just don't understand what it's like to be us the people that have went thru some stuff so it doesn't make anybody less of a man or woman to break down sometimes so don't let anyone tell you different my prayers are with you and God bless you all

If a loved one is not willing to educate themselves about what one is experiencing and uses guilt as a motivation, it is a clear sign of emotional immaturity. I finally had to leave my wife of 26 years when she replied to my statement that if she continues treating me unkindly, I will just kill myself, (not a threat, I had been planning for several months, not cry baby but real loss of will to live) her answer was that I should kill myself.......wow I learned who she truly is....and left.......

I totally understand how you all feel. I had a TBI 2yrs ago and I still suffer from concussion fatigue and now I have psoriasis which is an autoimmune disease and can cause fatigue also. It is so hard to get through my days. I wish more doctors knew this was so common, or people in general . I get " you are still having issues that long " I wish they could feel it for one day to understand !! I just wanna feel like me again....it's very hard.

How awful for you. Your wife is bitter about all the time she feel she wasted with you and that’s not fair to you. I am glad you made the decision to be without her. Has your will to live changed, since she left?
Please don’t kill yourself. Maybe, I could help you?
Kindly, Sabrina

I fell from about 10 feet at work landing backwards striking my head on The ground. Video surveillance shows I laid there for about four minutes my body also, started convulsing as I laid there, I then got up staggering to the front office. I don’t remember going by ambulance I remember vaguely being in the ER, This happened November 24, 2017.
This was my 5th concussion. I had all kinds of problems and still believe I do like not tasting food blacking out and my arms Trimble . I still feel tired all the time and restless at night I lose track of time or can’t recall parts of my week .I have trouble even speaking now. Oh I am 48. I went five months without seeing a doctor just the ER doctors because I had to make several more trips to the ER where I was found unconscious

I was in a wreck almost 5 years ago that resulted in a severe TBI. I was never expected to be able to walk or talk again. Well, I do both, even have a full-time job, which for the 1st time since the wreck I'm considering giving up due to neuro-fatigue. It seems to have gotten worse over time. One thing I've learned is there is no rhyme or reason with brain injury & no two are the same.

I suffered a TBI back in 2012. I have come along way, but the fatigue still takes a toll on my everyday. I started working part-time about 4 months ago and was recently fired due to how exhausted I was at work. Not to mention when I got home from work I was useless and needed to nap.

I am so sorry you have had such a rough time and were fired for something that is out of your control. I have recently had to quit my job of 26 years due to my concussion from a fall. Wishing you luck on getting back on your feet. I have found the local spa to be very helpful w. the pain associated w. my injury- heat alternating with cold brings relief like nothing else for me. Best.

My mother had a large lymphoma tumor removed from her cerebellum 6 weeks ago and has been sleeping alot since. There is very minimal cancer left and she received methotrexate chemo yesterday. She has been sleeping 95% of the time since the day before the treatment. She is also on 7 different pills including, an anti fungal injection and a steroid. Is this normal? When can we expect her to be awake and have energy again?

With all those pills fighting eachother and going through chemo, I would say never. Energy is a gift only granted to those who are healthy. Chemo alone is enough to wear down an elephant...
Just love her!

I apologize in advance for somewhat hijacking this thread. I was born with fatigue and I think it is due to a brain defect but try and get anyone in the medical profession to believe that. I noticed that other children at school were all running around and having a blast during recess and didn't understand it. I was abnormal when I was 10 but was better at 10 than, 15. Better at 15 than 20, etc.. I had medical insurance for the first time at 21 and I was immediately diagnosed with depression. I thought it wasn't right but I was too tired to research and fight for myself. Whenever fatigue is mentioned, depression is the cause. Of coarse I had blood tests. Once you are diagnosed with that, that's all anyone in the medical profession will hear/see/cling on to.

I am now 53. My health is awful due to not being able to take care of myself due to the fatigue. It doesn't get better, it only gets worse, faster now too.

I know this post won't amount to anything good, but I'm having a particularly bad day and needed to vent.

I will die soon, in a horrible health condition situation, due to what the fatigue made me, with never had having a life and no one cares nor listens and tries to fit the square peg of my condition into a round hole of common, bullshit, that tests would prove if it were true, (except the over used diagnose of depression), diagnoses.

Hi Darcy, just read your post from 2017. I wanted you to know that when I was 8 I suffered an injury to my head, behind my left ear. I am now 53 years old and have been on disability for roughly 10 years for chronic pain. I just wanted you to know you are not alone and I KNOW your suffering, it has been my life too, just cry all the time and no help, no one understands. Just wanted you to know your not alone.

Thanks everyone. I just recently suffered a tbi at work. I'm, well I was a heavy equipment op. At a coal mine. My injury was to the back of my head. Was put on disability for 2 months. Because of terrible doctors and other things my job found a way to let me go. So I'm trying to get well quickly cause I've got to have a job. But the fatigue and bad memory, getting angry easily have left me isolated. But I know now I'm not alone. I'm sorry there are so many of us dealing with this disability. But I'm glad we all found this site. Thanks again. And remember don't give up if doctors won't help keep reading til you find what does. We are the best judge of what we need.


If you don’t have a job, apply for Medicaid. It’s very easy to get instantly approved online.

You may have already gone back to work, since you posted this comment.

My husband suffered a head injury from a recent car accident. I am disabled and am only 48yrs old. However, not as disabled/injured as many on this particular website. My husband is though and it’s been a very horrible ordeal.

My husband will never work again and nobody will help us financially. My husband is suing both insurance companies, but this could take a lot of time and bills don’t wait for you. Time is not on our side.

With all the Stress my husband is getting worse mentally and I have to be strong for the both of us. Unfortunately, I’m not superwoman and this isn’t a movie with some - Sappy Ending!

I too am getting emotionally strained. Why can’t the USA help people like us? I tried and I make too much money.

My total monthly household income from SSDI is $1642. This is less than $20K per year for two people to live on? No it’s not humanly possible for one person to live on!

I hope you feel better.

Hi, I too get angry a lot. I found some things that help. I am doing neurofeedback therapy. It seemed silly playing computer games until I realized I was remembering things better and learning to deal with my short fuse.it took me two months to really notice. Another thing that keeps me calm is L-theanine. It's a natural supplement that you drink with a cup of green tea. I find when I wake up irritated it helps allot. I almost got divorced from my injury because I was all over the place! At night take a sleep aid there's no shame in that.I take melatonin. I now take Adderall around 3 o'clock because I find that's when I short circuit out and lose focus which yup I get mad. I also talk to my neurofeedback doctor because he's also a psychologist. Don't shut down just back up and breathe.you have to get a sense of humor about a head injury. Also, work out, go for walks and talk to God he doesn't ask questions like a spouse! I hope I helped take care.

It’s not that simple in all case with a head injury or fatigue. Also, Adderall will definitely pep you up, but is very addictive.

You’re lucky to have a spouse that ask questions. When your spouse stops asking you questions, you should worry! lol..

My husband can’t go work-out or go for walks, yet. Maybe never. He’s not physically disabled, but does have pain throughout his entire body.

His brain injury from a recent car accident has just been a nightmare for us both. I can’t live without my husband and vice versa. Nobody gets this part?


Workers Comp is terrible! Do you have a lawyer?

I was assaulted almost 2 years ago, left with 3 fractures and a bleed on the brain. I had a seizure 2 weeks after but none since. I suffered with dizzy spells for the first 6 months and then on random occasions. Now I suffer with extreme fatigue, I try to sleep at proper times but I tend to wake up during the middle of the night. My blood tests are normal, thyroid etc. My blood pressure and oxygen levels are all perfectly normal... Yet I can't seem to find enough energy to do any activities. Please advise

So glad I found this! I also suffer from severe exhaustion! We had a horrible accident in 2015. I spent a month in ICU, suffered TBI and had a large piece of my skull stored in my side for 4 months. For the first year I was tormented by not being able to sleep. Nothing helped. Now move forward a year and I can't get enough sleep. I mean SLEEP, for about 16 hours a day;(. People don't understand that you literally cannot keep your eyes open. Please share if you find something that works,) Count your blessings;)

90% of concussion patients have vision issues. Go see an optometrist with FCOVD designation. Your regular optometrist will "probably" not detect binocularity issues.

Omg! Thank you. I've gone for times and they all tell me I have 20/20. No, I don't! It's so frustrating.then they told me to go to a neuro-ophthalmologist and they said my brain is not understanding what I'm looking at like my eyes not talking to my brain properly. But no one's doing anything and I'm getting mad about it.

I had a auto accident 6 mos ago and still have signs of post concussion syndrome - I also had vision issues and the neuro- opthomoligist said my eyes are in a constant state on contraction so I get dizzy spells not BPPV - and extreme fatigue - my eyes are so strained because they are not working with my brain - yes I’m 69- and had a injury in a accident .3 years ago - it’s making me crazy because if you can’t see something on a xray like a broken arm no one can understand !

Thanks so much for writing this! I was in a car accident a little over 2 years ago. The sub dueral hematoma shifted my brain until a crainiotomy was preformed. Last year my eyesight got even worse. I went to an optometrist who told me my cataracts were bad. I had those removed and still can't see very well. The optometrist told me I am exaggerating. I know how bad I see and have a feeling that my eyes are ok but something is amiss between my eyes and my brain. After reading what you wrote, I will seek out a neurologist/ optometrist.