Is It Okay to Engage in Heavy Lifting After a Brain Injury?

Question: 

I have had two TBIs, and I feel pretty good. I am in a rehab program and also volunteering because I’m trying to find a job, perhaps one that involves heavy lifting. Is there a lifting limit for people with TBI? And if so, why? I don’t want to do any more damage to my brain.

Answer: 

I am sorry to hear about your multiple traumatic brain injuries, and it is good to hear that you are receiving rehabilitation and doing well enough to volunteer. I applaud your efforts to re-enter society and the work force at large.

Without knowing details about your injury, it’s impossible for me to provide an answer as to what, if any, lifting restrictions you might have. Certainly, having a traumatic brain injury, in and of itself, does not lead to an automatic recommendation for lifting restrictions, but issues like balance should play a part in the decision.

I cannot envision how lifting might damage your brain unless the active lifting was putting you at some risk for falling.

I always tell my patients, “If in doubt, ask.” My suggestion is to talk to a physician who knows your case and your risk factors for injury, if any, with lifting activities. Oftentimes, patients are referred for functional capacity evaluations when questions regarding physical demand capacities need to be answered. These types of exams don’t address the challenges faced by individuals with TBI relative to such issues as the impact of fatigue, cognitive impairment, and behavior challenges to work re-entry. Best of luck to you in your work re-entry efforts.

 

Posted on BrainLine April 16, 2014

Nathan Zasler

Nathan Zasler, MD is CEO and medical director for Concussion Care Centre of Virginia, Ltd. as well as CEO and medical director for Tree of Life Services, Inc.  He is board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation and fellowship trained in brain injury.

Comments

I had my tbi from a head on collision on a motorcycle and I lift heavy weights and it's actually helping my brain

My injury was in april. I lifted weights within 2 months and felt dizzy and symptoms of the original injury. Tried again the next two months did not feel the dizziness but i do have a strange sensation of the original injury. Similar to a very small headache. I lifted light and felt no problems till i went heavy. So I'm backing off with heavy weights and sticking to light weights or workouts like hitting the bag or hill sprints which I know my head can handle. Will post again next month on my next attempt at lifting heavy.

Husband was in car vs tractor trailer. Doctor told him no lifting.

I am sure that I have read that heavy lifting is not advised for people with post-concussion syndrome because it increases intracranial pressure.

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