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Fatigue After Brain Injury: So Tired  My  Tired Is Tired.

On September 2014 Labor day I suffered a bleeding stroke and brain injury resulting in brain surgery to relieve the pressure. This was caused by a blood infection I caught in my mechanical heart valves after some routine dental surgery. The doctors told my family that if I survived I would never be the same. After 3 months if learning how to walk, talk, chew, swallow, read and write, kidney failure due to antibiotics that I was on for the blood infection, the doctors were right about one thing. I would never be the same.
 

Fatigue after brain injury; Cognitive fatigue, brain Fog, foggy brain, mental fatigue, brain fatigue, brain exhaustion, mental tired ness, mental tiredness.

Directly associated to the central nervous system, the sleep/wake arousal system is not quite working as it should. 

 

After brain injury everything you do takes so much more effort, thinking and processing information, tying your shoes, getting dressed, the energy for the whole day is used up within the first two hours. The brain is working harder to keep up with all its functions. Even ones that used to come as second nature. Eventually it is like an overload button, the brain needs a rest and it needs it Now!

Many survivors including myself who have insomnia on top of all this. Brain Injury survivors have an increase need for sleep but the resemblance is fatigue.

Mental fatigue is different from physical fatigue. "I'm so tired my hurts" is the way I often describe the way fatigue feels since my ABI. Being physically tired after excersize, strenuous labor, a long walk and so on. Mental fatigue comes in thinking processes, learning and processing information, watching TV, problem solving, computer activities, interpreting the behavior of others and thinking logically. 

 

For brain injury survivors that is so much worse. Our mental energy is already used after a short time. We use way more parts of our brain, the cause of the dead area must be passed by, in the communication between brain cells.

After brain injury "foggy brain" is more professionally called " cognitive fatigue" it does not go away without paying it attention. Unfortunately it can come back over and over again.

Why fatigue after brain injury?

1.
Physical changes such as mobility challenges, poor balance like myself, so much effort a survivor must put into everything we do, takes up a lot of energy.

2.
Memory and concentration difficulties making it hard for us to keep up. 

 

3.
Changed sleep patterns and difficulty sleeping well after brain injury.

* Symptoms of fatigue After brain injury: First being the obvious- feeling tired - increasingly so

* Deterioration of thinking (cognitive) and other functions as fatigue increases

* Trouble paying attention

* Unable to concentrate

* Increased irritation and frustration. Becoming sensitive, weepy, angry, feeling "out of sorts."

* Headaches for me and other physical changes

Ways that help cope with fatigue after brain injury. 

 

1.Watch your mood. I don't know about you, but the more fatigued I am, the easier it is to sink into depression. However; not everyone with fatigue is depressed. Brain Injury can significantly impact mood and behavior. This might be a consequence of damage to the frontal lobe and direct damage to the brain itself.

Be realistic in your planning - I am learning this one the hard way! Pacing your activities, right down to meal planning can help with that boom-crash cycle

Feeling depressed, stressed, and anxious can leave you feeling drained and worn out. When people experience high levels of fatigue it definitely keeps me from Being able to do the things I enjoy doing. Which can result in feeling down.

Make sure when planning your schedule you make time for things that bring you pleasure, activities you enjoy.. Like listen to music, enjoy a piece of chocolate.. Things you enjoy.


 

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