Recovering from Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Mary Ann Keatley, PhD, CCC and Laura L. Whittemore, Brain Injury Hope Foundation
Recovering from Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI)

The Important Role of Brain Filters

Much of the brain’s energy is used to filter out irrelevant or unnecessary information. Just imagine what it would be like with no filter on your brain. All the sounds, smells, images, and feelings would come crashing in at the same time. The overstimulation would probably paralyze you and prevent you from taking any action.

After sustaining MTBI, most of the brain’s energy is diverted to basic functioning, and little is left over for filtering or censoring. Trivial or insignificant thoughts may often have the same weight in your mind as important ones. This can make decisions difficult. You may find that your brain gets stuck on an idea or phrase that keeps replaying, and this uses a great deal of brain energy.

New sensitivities can be very challenging and baffling for the injured person and their loved ones. Going into a restaurant or store where there are fluorescent lights, background music, or a great deal of visual stimuli may cause the brain to shut down. Most people say that they want to get into a quiet place and rest their brain after that experience. That is why it is so important to plan your social activities when fewer people are around and when there is less commotion.

Hearing Problems and Hypersensitivity to Sound

As mentioned above, a common symptom of traumatic brain injury is hypersensitivity to sound. This is called hyperacusis. The auditory system becomes very sensitive to environmental noise, and you may discover that you have great difficulty going to restaurants, the grocery store, or social gatherings.

Many individuals report staying at home to avoid the assault and feelings of being overwhelmed in these noisy situations, or they may go out only at times when places are less crowded and less noisy. Any noise can assault and overwhelm a person with MTBI, including a vibrating refrigerator, heating system, or humming fan, etc.

An excellent accommodation for hyperacusis is ear filters. The actual name is ER 15/25 noise-dampening ear filters. These are custom-fitted earplugs, originally made for musicians, but they now have been adapted for individuals with traumatic brain injuries. Consult an audiologist at a speech and hearing clinic to obtain filters. Current studies show that filters can reduce overstimulation to the auditory system and allow you to participate in social situations without becoming overwhelmed. An advantage of using ear filters is that you can put them in for brief periods of time and take them out when you don’t need them. They can be made with clear materials and are therefore less visible. The ear molds for these filters are made by an audiologist, or a specialist trained in testing hearing and treating hearing problems.

The ear is susceptible to blast injuries. Unique patterns of injury occur with bombs and explosions that are seldom seen outside of combat. The eardrum or tympanic membrane may be perforated in the blast and should be evaluated with an otologic evaluation and audiometry (hearing evaluation) to determine whether there is an injury to the ear.

Eardrums can be replaced, but observational studies over the years have shown a high rate of spontaneous healing of ruptured eardrums following blast injuries. Whether a perforated eardrum heals spontaneously depends on the size and placement of the perforation.

Two types of hearing loss are associated with blast-induced injuries. One type is called conductive hearing loss, and the second type is sensorineural hearing loss. The high-frequency sounds are more likely to be affected in blast injuries. Many individuals complain of tinnitus or ringing in the ears, and it is common to have balance problems, dizziness and/or vertigo associated with perforated eardrums. It is very important to keep the ear canal dry until the eardrum has healed.

Vision Problems and Sensitivity to Light

You may notice that your eyes don’t seem to be working in the same way that they did before your brain injury. Some eye doctors specialize in vision problems resulting from an acquired brain injury. They can help diagnose visual problems related to the injury and provide exercises or special glasses to help with recovery.

Because the visual changes are sometimes subtle, you may pass them off as being related to fatigue or brain fog. Aiming and focusing the eyes are linked, and that is why objects may appear to move, be seen as double, or blur in and out. Some individuals also complain that it is difficult to focus quickly from near to far or far to near.

Vision problems and cognitive deficits may compound one another. The most common complaints related to visual problems associated with brain injuries include light sensitivity, headaches, double vision, fatigue, dizziness, difficulty reading, or loss of peripheral visual fields. You may feel a heightened sensitivity to light and may even need to wear your sunglasses inside. You may have to request that fluorescent lights be turned off. Computer and reading tasks may take longer than usual, and tend to be more confusing and tiring.

A behavioral optometrist or a doctor who belongs to the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association can perform a comprehensive vision evaluation and help you determine the best course of action. Some individuals with visual deficits can benefit from specific lenses or prisms in their glasses and/or from vision therapy.

If you have vision problems associated with MTBI, this may deplete your energy and decrease your ability to perform daily living tasks. It is unrealistic to return to work
until vision problems are addressed. If your job requires a great deal of reading or moving your eyes between the desk and a computer screen, you may find that your errors increase because of difficulty tracking. It is very important to address visual problems, as they can increase the recovery time.

Dizziness and Vertigo

Feelings of dizziness and nausea are common after a head injury. You may notice that these symptoms come and go depending on the activity you are doing. Dizziness may refer to distinct symptoms, one of them being vertigo. This is when you feel as though you are spinning, and sometimes you feel nauseated or like you may lose your balance. Researchers have discovered various causes for this symptom, such as problems with your inner ear, impairments in eye movements, clenching and grinding your teeth, tightness in the neck muscles, etc.

Dizziness may also originate from cervical neck injuries. The primary symptoms with this type of dizziness include feeling off balance, lightheadedness, and the sensation of floating. If you have what is called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), you may notice that you have a sudden attack of spinning when you turn over in bed, change your head position quickly, or reach for an item above your head. This usually lasts for less than a minute, but you may be left with feelings of nausea and dizziness for a longer time.

The Mayo Clinic developed a technique called canalith repositioning (1994). where the head is maneuvered in various positions to help eliminate the dizziness. This is accomplished by moving the calciumcrystals in the inner ear. Medications that can help dizziness are also available. Be sure to consult with your doctor to see if you need a referral to an ear doctor who specializes in traumatic dizziness and/or an eye doctor who specializes in traumatic vision syndrome.

Changes in Energy Reserve After Injury

Healing takes a tremendous amount of energy. The diagram in Figure 1 illustrates functioning before and after the injury. It shows how the uninjured brain can perform many activities that are physical, cognitive, and emotional throughout the day, and still have a reserve of energy. After a brain injury, it takes more energy to deal with cognitive and emotional issues, leaving little or no reserve.

The brain uses more energy than any other organ in the body. Before you were injured, you had a pool of reserve energy available when you overextended yourself. Following your injury, nearly all of your energy is required to perform the most basic functions just to get through the day. If you are continuing to work, you may find that when you get home, you must rest and not engage in other activities as before.

Your energy reserves at this point are almost nonexistent. When you push too much you may reach overload, and the extreme fatigue may cause your brain and body to shut down. This exhaustion can also amplify all of your symptoms, and cause an emotional reaction.

Almost Immediately after an injury it becomes clear that you don’t have the same amount of energy that you previously did. It is important to emphasize the need for rest and conserving energy. For a while you may be unable to do as much as you used to and may need to take time out for rest — Brain Rest. Lay down during the day for naps. Even if you don’t sleep, resting your head and lying down may make a significant difference in your recovery.

Posted on BrainLine November 20, 2009. Reviewed July 26, 2018.

From Recovering from Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: A handbook of hope for our military warriors and their families by Mary Ann Keatley, PhD, CCC and Lauar L. Whittemore. Copyright © 2009 the Brain Injury Hope Foundation. Reprinted with permission. www.braininjuryhopefoundation.org.

Comments (111)

I it’ll be 3 yrs sept 19 since I had my hard slammed into a tire rim it busted my head at hair line an around my down by my eye. I had to have stitches an staples. There were places they couldn’t numb as well . I would think I’d be healed from it bu I keep losing my Parethal vision vision it’s always temporary an looks like a string of light blocks it an my ears they start ringing out of no where an sometimes it gets so load it like paralyzes me could this be happening cause of my injury

Almost 20 years ago when I was 19 years old, I was punched very hard on the side of my head behind my ear by an abusive boyfriend. The punch was so hard that it left the back of my ear and ear completely black. He used all of his strength to punch me and he was much bigger than me. I felt very sick for days. I never went to the hospital or to a doctor. Since then, I have had so many things happen to me which I know is caused by that injury. I have a lot of trouble finding the right words to use when I want to speak or describe something. The same line of a song will play over and over in my head constantly. If I try to make a decision about something, all of these other thoughts will come rushing in and will just overwhelm me and I cannot make a decision on the smallest of things. I have outbursts and rages over small things. Loud noises or too much noise makes me angry. So many other things that I experience that are just too much to list. Another weird thing that happens to me is when I am in the shower, I will hear commotion going on outside of the bathroom, almost like people screaming and fighting. It happens so often that I know now that it's nothing and there's no reason to get out of the shower and check to see what is going on. I really hope that this does not affect me for the rest of my life, but it has already been close to two decades and still experiencing these things. I don't know if I can be helped.

Reading all the comments is reassuring that I’m not going mad. Have had 3 cycling crashes, all with broken bones, all with head impacts and black eyes etc. and one with loss of consciousness. But I don’t recall concussion like the symptoms since being hit on the side of my head by a the structural part of collapsing caravan awning bent full of rainwater. I felt no pain. Vision was ‘not right’ and I was generally not with it. Left hospital with a fact sheet on what to expect. Since then condition has been up and down, but always, mind fog, surreal feeling, 2/10 headache, shocking memory of things since incident, and inability to listen to anything complex. Vision weird on the left at night. If I recharge and do nothing I improve, then start doing stuff and go downhill. Had a bad day last week where the night before I had walked headfirst into a glass sliding door. Next morning woke up and the tinnitus in my right ear turned back on like a light switch. Then, after trying to be normal and do too much I swung a golf club in my backyard, and at finishing the swing, instant, overwhelming double vision and dizziness, nausea. This got me a doctors visit and mri. I was also tested and told some thing I knew; balance is off. I now rock backwards when my eyes are closed so the balance is also on the fritz. I did do ok on what resembled a sobriety test with eyes open.

On the bright side this is quite funny. I recently asked my wife, “can I please have some ginger coated peanuts”. Also find myself at the wrong end of supermarket wondering why. Running a cold bath instead of hot. My new word for all this ‘dammit’.
My work is understanding-I am not allowed back until I get a medical clearance. I am certain I will not cope with the full job managing many staff etc, as it’s hard enough with a functioning mind..... so we shall see.
Otherwise my family is great support including driving me everywhere in case the vision plays up and enforcing rest when I get too goofy. Good luck to all of you with your own unique and often far more serious circumstances - it’s great ppl can support each other here.

this is a logbook of me almost to a "T" a long long misery of a living nightmare. As I sit here with a left eye blurry with pain behind eye, headache, dizzy, with brain pauses, hate light, nausea, FATIGUE.......but would anyone even help me except to psych drugs??

I was hit on the back of my head very hard when a passenger on the plane dropped his metal luggage on my head as I was seated. I suffered a TBI 1 1/2 years ago and am still recovering. I am writing this because I saw an excellent neurologist but he was clueless. So many of the symptoms that each of you are mentioning were and are the same as mine. The back of the head is the parietal lobe which is responsible for vision. I could see but I could not recognize faces or people. I am writing this to provide comfort, compassion and hope for those of you with a newly diagnosed TBI. One of the scariest and most frustrating aspects was the unknown and not knowing how long this would last. I have suffered for almost two years but I am finally getting better. You must pay attention to your instincts. If it is too noisy outside, stay inside. Protect yourself and cocoon as long as you need to. You will help your brain heal if you let it rest. I recently discovered a small monthly group for people with TBI's. It is amazing in that everyone pretty much experiences the same things, but everyone thought it was just them. The rehab specialist who leads the group recommended ear buds and many people wear them as needed. The other big thing is to use your phone or a timer to remind you to do basic things. If you are cooking, use the timer to remind you to turn off the stove or oven. Set the timer to remind yourself to shower. I was a graduate school professor but after the TBI, I kept forgetting to shower! It will get better but give yourself a year. Your brain will heal. I am almost two years post injury and I never thought I could even be looking at a computer screen and typing this. Baby steps. Some days are harder than others. But you will heal. Be kind to yourself.

I suffered a TBI on April 8, 2019. I thought I had recovered. But my sensitivity to sound and this emotional roller coaster are exhausting. I feel like I'm losing my mind. Has anyone else experienced this?

I was in a bad accident in August of 2014 where our car flipped 4 times and we landed in a drainage ditch that actually saved our lives. Unfortunately, the rough of the car cracked my left side of my head cause my TBI. I was unconscious for about 5 minutes eorh my eyes and mouth wide opened. My son thought I was dead. Now almost 5 years later I still have memory loss and very sensitive to noise and even the sun. However, getting rest is the most important factor. When I don't get my proper rest it's like the day of the wreck because I have PTSD along with my TBI. I can relate to everyone in this page and prayer has kept me going on. I still have my bad and good days but I never give up on me.

Mary, you are not losing your mind. I thought the exact same thing. Truck vs. pole 1/2017. Have been a nurse for 30 years. Happy, good nature, could multitask, no memory issues, etc. then the accident. Look up neuropsychology, best, really helped a huge amount. Good luck

Yes Mary, unfortunately many TBI patients probably deal with the same issues. I still have great difficulty with sound/hyperacusis after 4 1/2 years. Before we got hurt we could push, it often got us results, now sometimes it seems the harder a person pushes/tries, it often causes issues with various symptoms and the ups and downs you mentioned. Often the complete opposite to our 'normal' prior to the injury. Don't lose hope, you will experience those setbacks. As hard as it is, try to stay positive.
Search and find a very experienced concussion specialist. Someone that is honest, that will tell you that they don't know everything, and that it is a very difficult medical condition to deal with for both patients and practitioners. And tells you that it's a condition that often requires a coordinated, multi practitioner approach. Preferably someone in the trenches with patients, that doesn't just talk the talk, that is well connected, that people really trust, and are getting exemplary results from. Do exactly what they tell you to do, and try your best to just keep moving forward...it can be a very difficult process, but you will make progress. I hope you start to see changes soon.

I suffered a brain injury 3 years ago. No medical people even try to get it. I have so many symptoms along with visual snow I'm now seeking medical care out of state. Some antiseizure meds help but even with insurance they're very expensive. I used to be super athletic and independent now if I could get help for the ridiculous fatigue I could deal. I wish all out there for hope and having better luck than I

I suffered a concussion on April 1st... and also thought I was all better. But I’m still having a lot of symptoms. Today my brain got so overloaded I had the most severe panic attack I have ever had & could hardly remember my own name. It’s even scarier when I tell my doctor these things & she won’t send me to a neurologist for an MRI. :(

Hi All,

It's been comforting and saddening at the same time reading everyone's experiences with tbi. I was a passenger (wearing my seat belt) in a car crash over 2 months ago. Not to be ungrateful but my frustrations over lack of communication and respect with the medical field is just Grr! After confronting a doctor in the hospital for information, I was told there were cerebral contusions (bleeding and bruising), a mild concussion and musculoskeletal injury. I'm basically bed bound right now, am trying to build up my walking again starting with 5 minutes a day with my sun glasses and ear plugs (I used to be able to do high intensity cardio 5 days a week). I have chronic headaches, tinnitus seeing eye floaters and black spots, blurry vision and have pains in my eyes and ears. And I have pain from the top of my head to the tips of my toes just all over really (soft tissue and nerve damage it seems). I feel dizzy, have presyncope, balance problems, memory focus and attention problems. Thank god my family have been amazing and one brilliant friend but I've found that times like this you find out who your real friends are. And I agree with a lot of people on this page, its so frustrating how people just don't understand what you're going through. And you even begin to doubt it yourself until you realise making dinner is like an Olympic sport! I've been given amitriptyline for my pain and sleep problems but I had horrific vivid hallucinations and tramadol made me feel like a non functioning zombie with a swollen tongue. At the moment I can't watch TV, listen to music and read properly. I'm sensitive to light and noise and social interaction so I'm looking at the four walls in my room feeling isolated so you know what I think I'm allowed to feel sorry for myself, anyone who's being through this will understand. But over thinking has made lead to me feeling mentally worse, so focusing on gratitude and getting better needs to be priority in getting better and not giving an F what anyone else thinks. The one good thing I can say is that this has been a very reflective time and it's made me see how time flies by. Even though I have read so many people say that you will never get the old you back, I'm adamant and determined on making a full recovery to the best of my ability. Thank god for another day and thank god for my blessings. It can always be worse, let's be thankful for what we have, because it is only going to get better.

As a RN, who suffered a TBI while at work, I was lucky and was referred to a TBI expert at the University hospital downtown from my hospital. I also saw a neurologist, and a speech therapist. I love this article, it has helped me so much with my PCS, symptoms that I'm left with. I have printed this article and given it to my family members, so they can better understand my "Spells". That is what I call the days when I have a hard time with lights and sound, and spend the days in my office where it is dark and quiet. The best thing, I have found for me is meditation. The music calms me.

I had 3 concussions in the last 5 years. I healed but the last one..any loud impact noises trigger symptoms and I'm done for the day. A young guy below me keeps slamming the door in the apartment below me. The door is made of steel and when he slams it the whole apartment shakes. I approached him and he said it's because the door's broken but it feels like he is doing it on purpose. I spoke to family but they think I should find a more suitable place. Everyone is exposed to it. It brings on foggiest irrationality. It feels like you have gone a few days with no sleep. It is frustrating because I seem to get better and then a loud door slam or his truck which is directly below me. Why would a loud impact like a truck or car door being shut bring on symptoms?

Because after 3 concussions your nervous system is really overly sensitized - to many things. Pressure, touch, sounds, memories. Think of it, that slam does create a sound wave that your highly sensitive body feels in so many ways you don't even notice. A loud enough noise blast can literally kill people. Also your brain remembers the pain and the crashes. They had sounds too - metal slam i would think. Triggering sounds for an over protective brain. Parts of your brain are also literally gone. They broke and then died in the aftermath of the concussions. Its one of the things drs kind of neglect to talk about. But that's why we're have so many memory gaps, and problems doing things we used to. And it takes a while to relearn things. Cuz we are having to form new learning paths in our brain. But sometimes the parts that died arent just paths they're important. But you can get brain over load now because of it. And certain sounds or tones or frequencies are more triggering than others. Diets higher in good fats, nuts, fish oils, avacados- spread throughout the day and supplements like magnesium l-threonate really help your brain to cope and heal better.

So thankful to find this and read it and all of these comments. Told my hubby it's like finding my species (or community). Nice to know I'm not alone. I have a mild tbi from a car accident, just passed the 1 year mark. Still not able to work. All the same symptoms, headache, d iui zzy fatigue, sensitivity to sound, light, motion, stimuli. Tinnitus. Plan to look into that Choline someone mentioned. I know I've made progress but it feels like I still have far to go. I get a random day here or there where i still have symptoms but my head feels clearer and I'm hopeful that I'm almost over it but then I always seem to slide back a bit. One step at a time I guess. Progress not perfection. Be well everyone.

About 4 months back i fell and hit my head off my bathroom sink ( i was an idiot and was drunk ), and a year before that i hit my head hard off of a marble counter at work ( after the marble counter encounter i almost knocked myself out , blurred vision ect ) i just shook it off and went back to work , after a day or so all i got was a goose egg. after the last incident i noticed major issues with my memory - forgetting what day it is , even what year, getting lost in grocery stores , having a hard time learning new information, anxiety is also so much worse ( ive always had anxiety but i managed it with keeping busy , diet ) . can you get issues like this months after hitting your head? I just got a new doctor shes a physicians assistant ( its hard organizing doctors ect when you have severe brain fog, no energy ) . I told her about these two incidents and she said * most doctors would ask why you didn't * black out *after each incident , - i did kind of pass out after hitting my head off my sink but i dont know if it was because i was drunk or ..from hitting my head. ... another symptom i noticed is when i try to sign my name i feel like im going to have a seizure, my entire body tenses up, face ect..i told her this and she said * your thyroid will be checked and to see if your anemic , see you in two weeks * Im like ..what the hell? why wouldnt she order an MRI or CAT Scan...her reasoning was * could cause cancer, lol! i dont understand why after me telling her all my symptoms and what occurred why shed think im anemic ...simply because i said im fatigued..but than she ignored every other symptom. I know its partly my fault because i didn't go to a doctor directly after these incidents but its because all i had was a mild headache that went away and a goose egg. Should i go through all the blood work or just got find another doctor that will scan me or do other neurological testing ? Its a nightmare trying to find a doctor . the odd thing is she even admitted i could have a concussion but not be brain injured....if im not injured than why all the symptoms i asked . Im barely keeping it together, and i feel like a burden ...i got a simple job just doing janitorial but its in a busy place- may be to much for me right now but i refuse to not work atm .I dont want to make it worse if it is a concussion ..... sadly my diet is also garbage i skip meals daily ..... so its hard to pin point exactly what it is . The human body is a mysterious thing . Any advice /tips would be appreciated...i feel like im mentally handicapped .

If you are able to find a group of concussion experts, you should do that... for example Barrows Neurological Center in Phx has a group of people that make up their Concussion Team - Neurologist, Neuro-Opthamologist, Speech Pathologist, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist.

The latest research in concussion tells us that you do not need to black out to have a concussion. Concussion can happen over a period of months and it is a metabolic response to your brains healing. Your body sends an abundance of the already existing proteins that are necessary in your brain, but the over abundance causes a negative response and is toxic.

If the doctor says you should have blacked out or need to exhibit these three symptoms w/in 24 hours they are likely operating under old concussion research. It's likely not their focus or interest. So, if you do not have access to concussion experts and then find a doctor that is willing to except that they may not have the most recent information on concussion, but are willing to learn so that they can better assist you.

Recruit a friend, family member, librarian, college student, etc to help you find more recent data so that you can go to your doctor office prepared.

Hi Sherry, My advice would be to get a second opinion!

I normally wouldn't comment but I think I should in hopes that perhaps I can be of encouragement to someone else.

In July 2016 I hit my head while long boarding with my Husky. (It looked easy enough when my 18 year old did it).

Because I already had earplugs becauae of one of my clients I found I had to use them all the time if I was in a group of people of more then 3 or 4. I also use my prescription safety classes even inside. These are dark with dark side panels too.

I will add one other symptom to the above list in addition to the buzzing with was not in the article but someone else mentioned.

I found through observation and documentation that I am heat sensitive too. If the room is 21c then I am fine. But if the temperature goes up I don't notice I am starting to fatigue at 22 c but by 23c I realise why I am fatigued.

The clincher for me on the temp issue was the following.

I often fatigue while driving for about a half hour. This one day I had to drive 400km because we had to be home for the next morning And I knew I couldn't do the drive at night. I put the temp on 16c and remained clear headed the entire time. Yes I was super freezing and my wife had to sit in the sun and warm up for 2 hours after we got home but I realized definitively at that time I was truly heat sensitive also and this was a major factor in my symptoms in addition to the light a sound etc.

Here is my encouragement to all of you. Keep pushing forward. I don't notice improvements on a daily or weekly or even monthly basis. But looking back yes I am improving. I have had a half day without a headache I didn't realize this till it started raising in the afternoon that I had been headache free for that morning.

When I first started to do walkabouts. I could only walk 200 m at about 1.6km/hour it took a long time to improve and it has been slow. Some days I regress and like I said the progress isn't noticeable daily. By September 2018 I was walking every day averaging 6km in one continuous walk without breaks. And I was walking about 6.5km/hour.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Yes it is a constant battle. Yes I have to take breaks especially from the computer screen. And yes there are relapses. But keep walking. That seems to be one of the things that has really helped me push through the fog.

I alao believe it really helped I had a friend I was taking to on the phone while I was walking. It was wonderful to hear her voice in my ear and she seemed to encourage me on. Simply by speaking with me and being there

So walking with someone helps. You aren't alone Even if that person is virtually walking beside you. It was when I was talking with her that my walks jumped up dramatically as I seemed to have platoed at 2km and couldn't seem to push past that for many months. From April 2018 to September 2018 was when I really started to improve in my walks while talking with her on the phone.

My point. Keep doing the little things to heal. Don't give up. You might not notice the progress right then. But don't give up. I even can speak Spanish fluidly now again. That also took a long time.

I somehow acquired a TBI in April '18 without hitting my head. I was at a party in Mexico when I noticed something was suddenly wrong with me. The music there was catastrophically loud. I had been the life of the party, but the music had been bothering me all night, and at some point around 10 pm someone asked me a question, and my answer was gibberish. I knew it was gibberish, so I tried to explain my answer, and that answer was also gibberish. The rest of my time in Mexico I was antisocial and had a really difficult time talking to other people. But with two consecutive rounds of food poisoning, until I finally left a week later, I just kept to myself.

When I got back to the States, I immediately started a new job. The guy that hired me accused me of lying on my resume and later of doing drugs to explain my odd, stupid, antisocial behavior. I initially thought I had meningitis because it felt like my brain was swelling. I was hypersensitive to everything, I had very poor balance (felt like I was drunk), had very low awareness of everything that was going on around me, I couldn't hold a conversation, and I couldn't form any thoughts. I honestly thought I was dying.

I went to urgent care and she sent me home with ibuprofen. The symptoms persisted and a few weeks later I went to a different doctor, who did the same thing.

By the 2.5 month mark, I started doing research. It took almost a week to narrow down that my symptoms were probably related to a TBI. It took so long because I never hit my head.

I went back to that doctor and told him what I'd found. He asked if I thought I needed to see a psychologist or a neurologist. The insinuation that I might be out of touch with reality vs. experiencing serious medical issues destroyed my faith in him.

I saw a neurologist who was far more interested in regaling me with stories of his medical residency 30 years ago than in helping me out. He also didn't believe me and said I seemed fine, but said he'd order an MRI if I wanted. I did, and I had it immediately after his stupid visit. I wish someone would have warned me that the machine sounded like a jack hammer, but I grit my teeth and bared with it.

The results came back with a big white splotch in the prefrontal cortex in front of my left ventricle. Brain damage for which they couldn't determine the cause.

EVEN AFTER getting these results back, he was skeptical, "Well that could've happened to you during birth...." He didn't offer me any guidelines, suggestion, or support about how to recover. He spent the rest of the 90-minute meeting telling me about his trip to London and France. Thanks.

It's taking me a very long time through trial, error, and research to come up with things to avoid and things to engage in to, at least for my recovery, improve and recover from the symptoms. I still worry that there'll be some permanency to some of the symptoms.

I've already come to terms with the fact that even when I recover and feel normal for a while, it's not permanent. Too much stimulation suddenly causes relapse and then I'm dull and stupid again and it's like no one's home, and I can't handle social situations or complexity.

Things I've found to avoid: electronic screens of any kind, noisy places or situations where there's too much going on, too much sensory stimulation of any kind, anything bumpy or jostling, heart rate going too high/intense exercise, focusing or having to focus or concentrate...

Things I've found that helped: CDP choline (a supplement in the US, a prescription for brain injuries everywhere else); regular, low-impact mild-to-moderate physical exercise like walking, hiking, kayaking (running and sports probably have too much bounce); sitting quietly, doing nothing; and spending periods of time throughout the day being mindfully aware of bodily sensations, feelings, and thoughts. That one really seems to help. Getting out of my head seems to be when most of my progress has been made.

Sounds to me like you had an ischemic stroke, a transient ischemic stroke to be more precise. The abrupt loss of speech is very telling. You might want to investigate stroke recovery, albeit it probably looks very similar to TBI recovery at this point. Best of luck to you, keep pushing forward, the system will recover as best it can.

I hope you have gotten further in your recovery by now. My friend has TBI and is yet to see a neurologist. He’s been put on all kinds of antipsychotic medications and antidepressants. I’m trying to help him. He’s been denied ssdi twice and now I’ve hired an attorney. Good luck with your recovery.

I had a TMI from a bike accident October 2018 and went to the ER. I was wearing a helmet, and the CT scan indicated no bleeding. 2 months later, however, after experiencing dizziness, and weakness on my right side, and being miss diagnosed, I was admitted to the ER with a subdural hematoma. Had emergency brain surgery and now recovering. I'm still resting a lot and can't handle fluorescent lights. Headaches come and go.

What an excellent understanding article. I received mild TBI after a rear end car accident in August 2017 and am still suffering. I felt like nobody believed me other than my lovely wife. They finally found I had broken a few bones in my inner ear and I developed Tullio. My doctor had never heard of the condition which causes vertigo on certain pitches of noise. I suffered from the hyper sensitivity to noise but was told to get the ER 25 custom ear plugs. Yet again my doctor had never heard of this and the insurance company is currently refusing to fund but they really work well in busy situations. If your having issues with sound in public places please see your consultant and look into the ear plugs. They cost me $250 AUD for the pair (custom made). I was told I should expect all the healing to be completed within 18mths. It looks like the new me is here to stay and that's no picnic. Good luck to everyone else experiencing these issues. Your not alone.

I have a mild TBI - got a concussion by hitting my head off 2 walls. Left side at the back hit first and ricochet to the the wall on my right. I also have whiplash. I've been getting acupuncture to help. My fatigue if awful though. By afternoon I'm exhausted. I sleep for 2 hours and am ready for bed by 9 pm. My eyes are still very light sensitive. My balance isn't quite right either. Has anyone ever tried on of though vibration exercise machines to help with symptoms? would it even help? My physio doc said low impact exercise would help with the fatigue.

Hi Sam, I am still making progress almost two years after my TBI from a car wreck. I had a great doc right off the bat (I have yet to find a Neurologist who knows anything about TBI). I could barely move my body for several months other than to eat and walk my dog. All speech was slow and slurred. She had me on a schedule that was broken down to every two hours, I had to take a 20 minute "brain break"....this meant lying down in dark quiet room with eyes closed. I did every single thing at the same time every day. She had me start exercising by walking only five minutes to start and even then, I set my timer for 2-1/2 minutes and had to rest, then walk back home.

All of this to say that fatigue is the boss. It is nothing like being sick or tired and pushing your way through. If you push TBI fatigue, a person could end up back in bed for days. Then start over with the routine. Being patient and realizing that you are taking care of yourself by allowing your brain to heal in the best way it can and hard as it may be, on its own time. Take those scheduled breaks and see if it will stem the huge wave of fatigue from hitting. Best wishes.

I've had a mild TBI since April '18. I actually bought a vibrating plate exercise machine last month. I absolutely would not recommend it for people with TBI. All the shaking traveled up my spine and I ended up relapsing (my TBI suddenly got worse after having recovered). The only two things I've discovered that help are CDP Choline, and mindfulness of the body (basically, getting out of my own head and back into my body) and practices that support mindfulness of the body, like tai chi and mild/moderate physical exercise (non-bouncy).

I had brain injury by being mugged and kicked in the head. I was knocked out came to and knocked out again. After six weeks, I had a cranial sacral adjustment and had a couple of kinesiology sessions both to the world of good. I highly recommend you finding those two practitioners hello from Australia

Been out of work for 8 months due to TBI...I have apparently suffered multiple undiagnosed concussions and the last one did it. Didn't have any symptoms for about 2 months, besides a wicked headache and then the other symptoms hit me like a truck! I have all of the symptoms mentioned in the article and more. The worst part is the feeling that other people think you are making it all up because the symptoms are not "visible". To the point where sometimes I'm thinking it too...and then I try to move quicker than I should and realize it is still there! I'm glad I am not the only one out there going through this. Haven't started treatment yet as the doctors took forever to figure out what this was, looking forward to it though and hopefully finding some relief

You certainly are not the only one. I suffered a similar injury to the face two years ago. Unknowing the effects it would eventually have, I just carried on as usual. Some days soon after, my symptoms developed and worsened to the point where I thought I was losing my mind. The diagnoses as you said before can't be determined by a test. So in the event of expressing my concerns to my dr, he diagnosed me with anxiety and clinical depression. It wasn't till I was I recalled the injury did we piece it together. By then weeks had gone by and was suffering immensely. My mind had stopped functioning; I began mixing up my words, stumbling my sentences. I no longer was able to follow conversations. Incoming memories were dissolving in my mind. My depth perception was effected, as I found my self bumping into things. It takes me so much time to collect a thought that when I finally do, I'm just so frustrated, I let it go. And to endure each day in darkness is terrible. I can't imagine how people with even worse symptoms manage to exist. Because my inactive mind has deterred my ability and drive to exist. I only exist currently on a physical realm, but mentally I'm lost, and in a constant fear that ill never return to the person I was, The constant obsession of my injury which plays continuously in my head, pollutes me. And at times is the only reachable thought I can consume from memory. It's ironic how the most obtainable thought is one which delivers the memory of my issues. I guess that's just life's cruel little joke.

6 months after falling and hitting my head on concrete, I have improved thanks to Speech Therapy. I have also been to physical and occupational Therapies, although they have not been as effective. What made me think I would one day get my brain back was an app called “Constant Therapy” that my Speech Therapist recommended. I worked on it every day for 3 months and she confirmed with testing that it worked! I could also tell I was better. I hope you’ll give it a try. Best wishes!

I’ve never taken time to post on a site but this comment got me. I really understand how you feel existing physically due to this condition and how it can effect our lives. Please just know we have to keep going! One foot in front of the other that’s all. I found meditations listening to them in the dark helped. I actually recorded myself talking about healing and listened to it, I felt crazy. I’m 7 months into symptoms and things slowly get better keep goi g

Thank you all so much, I am a month into recovery from a motorcycle accident, Totaled bike, hit face first into gas tank putting a big dent in tank, helmet cut my face but surely saved my life. My symptoms are minor, loss of balance, hearing pulses, ringing ears but Dr prescribed acetaminophen, I sleep well with melatonin, thank God but so happy to hear I'm not alone. God bless you all.

Oh god yes. That's exactly what I'm experiencing, headache from the start but took a few weeks to notice the other symptoms. Its worse when it feels like doctors don't believe you but they have no idea. One opthamologist told me my vision was a bit off because I was just getting old despite it being perfect before the injury then it was like someone flicked a switch. Then a behavioural optometrist said no you have perfect vision but you have a horizontal misalignment caused by the blow. Damn idiot is supposed to be a specialist if I can find and understand these symptoms here why can't he. Also people at work don't care as you say they can't see it. I want the lights off but I get overridden by the majority. Then I'm in agony, mood plummets and I tell you I feel like just giving up.

Even being the one having the symptoms, I can't shake the feeling that my TBI isn't "real" or "worthy" because the physical damage was so minimal (barely broke the skin), I never even lost consciousness at all, and I made mistakes (even knowing better) in my initial healing, which was only four months ago anyway.

Being around people who don't understand TBI -- who does, really? -- and all but roll their eyes when we talk doesn't help my misconception. It's a common one, eh? Thank God and Physics and whoever you pray to, too, that my husband is so extraordinarily compassionate and understanding. Even so, I could really go for a conversation with someone else in my specific situation. Such a personal experience as TBI recovery sure can get ...so very... lonely.

Even so, here I am and I'm pretty convinced the light and sound sensitivity will be my final frontiers of healing. I just have to keep the faith that there will be a "final," ever. I have to, because whenever I forget to have faith, right down I go into the spiral of frustration and self-recrimination. Happened just two nights ago, and then I found this page. Thank you all for helping me get back to faith and hope.

Take it easy, and keep the faith. This is my new mantra.

Hi, I had a concussion over a year and a half ago it was due to a bicycle accident. I worked my way through it. But just recently I went for a massage and it brought back my symptoms. I think it was due to my head being face down in the cradle too long. Anyway, all I can say is hang in there you will get better it takes time and your energy levels will be different but eventually the brain heels. Just listen to your body and do what is best for you and get enough rest. Keep the faith try not to go down a rabbit hole I know it's hard but keep a positive attitude really helps in the end. Take care

Hi Scott, I recently had a bicycle accident too and now suffering from TBI. I just wanted to say your comment is very positive and inspiring, thank you. I hope your words of wisdom stay with me during my recovery.

So very Positive re: your recovery!

I was also in a bicycle accident back in 9/16...side swiped, not wearing a helmet, slid into the back of the car that hit me. Diagnosed months later w/a mild TBI.
Im older (now 66) as was the old lady that struck me, but no excuses - should have worn a helmet!
Unfortunately my condition has improved little, the medical community is largely clueless re:head injuries, but your words were positive for me to read - Thank You!

I understand your need to talk to someone going thru this. I went shopping with my mom on Black Friday. Trying to explain my noise sensitivity and my mom seeing what happens is different.We were at the cash register and almost done when a store alarm started going off. My hands automatically went to cover my ears. This shocked both my mom and the employee.
My injury happened in July 2018.

Hi

I had injury end of Sept 2018, head hit corner of chair had buzzing sound, still have headaches, dizziness nausea , especially when concentrating, or movements, feel frustrated , people around dont understand , ppl shd be educated by professionals on concussion, cant handle noise, crowds, light, cant handle conversations, slowed me down in life, going for treatment, hope i get better soon, its 3 mths now still struggling.. mild concussion, dont know when and how dizziness will go away w nausea. Cant handle skytrain rides . Its crazy.

I had a similar injury in September of 2018 also. I’m experiencing all the same symptoms. I’m currently on disability and doing vision and vestibular therapy and have to take an anxiety depression medication. I also just saw a neurologist and he is doing several tests including EEG, MRI and a few other tests. I feel very frustrated and hope this goes away soon.

I had a car accident I was hit by a bonanza but broadside when you was 16 years old bath passenger died. I was in a coma for 11 days but I remember my father telling me about o squeeze his has, I remember my mom asking he blood from my hair and Man other small memories. I am fine today. Have hearing loss in both ears from broken middle ear bones, neck pain, and leg pain. I handle all pain throu exercise. I have a masters degree and I’m a teacher. Do all coma patient have I near death experience? I did not. I am curious about what kids H.G. of brain injury I had. I had a hole in my head drilled to relieve pressure and had seizures. No one looking or speaking out to me would I know hat I’ve been th ough. I am very fortunate to recover. Why don’t I have more effects?

I had a CVST (Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis) 6 years ago and have suffered from severe ringing in the ears since. All of my doctors have been baffled by this as I never suffered from this before the clot was discovered. Nothing I have done works to mask the ringing. If anyone can help with this, I would appreciate it.

I am TBI survivor trying to figure out my issues after 8 years

Carol, for what it's worth, know that your simple comment made a huge difference for me. I'm a mere four and a half months into figuring out how to live life now and was feeling very down about my progress and mistakes I initially made, and hearing that it's a figuring out and it takes time gave me a lot of hope. Thank you, a lot.

I may have ABi. Or tbi. After your brain injury did you notice that you had a major sensitivity to caffeine? Did you also notice that you were getting your words and sentences all mixed up. I’m going through this right now

Yes. I have moderate TBI and I was caffine sensitive. At first, all I could drink was decaf. With caffine, CRAZINESS! Although, I am able to drink a coffee after about 10 years! Then for my 2nd cup, I will drink decaf! I love coffee!

Have you read this survival guide??

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