Recovering from a traumatic brain injury such as a concussion is often a rocky road. Patients can encounter numerous problems, including dizziness, headache, balance problems, vertigo, and fatigue.
Fatigue is, by far, the most commonly reported symptom after a traumatic brain injury. Its severity differs from patient to patient, and it can last anywhere from a few days to several months after the original injury.
Fatigue can be life-changing, as it’s difficult to predict what will trigger it and how severe it will be. So, it’s important for the patients to know what to do and how to manage this post-traumatic symptom.
What Causes Fatigue?
The exact causes of fatigue are unclear. The problem lies in the fact that many factors can contribute to it. Even after a TBI, your fatigue could be caused by other things, including any medications you might be taking, lack of sleep, anemia, depression, stress, etc.
After a concussion, your brain is trying to heal itself, which causes neurochemical changes that drain a lot of energy. Some brain functions aren’t as efficient during the recovery period as well. It takes a great deal of mental and physical effort to complete even the simplest tasks such as holding a conversation or even walking.
Because of the variety of different factors that can contribute to fatigue, it’s crucial for patients who’ve suffered a concussion to talk to their doctors to determine its cause. Figuring out why you’re experiencing fatigue can help you deal with it better.
What Are Some of Its Symptoms?
Addressing patients who’ve suffered a concussion, specialists at our Ottawa concussion clinic typically treat three different types of fatigue:
- Physical fatigue
- Psychological fatigue
- Mental fatigue
After a traumatic brain injury, many patients experience muscle weakness, which causes physical fatigue. You need to work harder to keep your balance, move, and walk. Typically, physical fatigue is worse in the evening, but it gets easier with time as you regain your physical strength.
Psychological fatigue is linked to anxiety and depression. You’re likely to experience mood swings, and you’ll find it difficult to get motivated to do anything.
Lastly, mental fatigue is connected to your concentration and thinking. It takes more energy to focus, and you cannot process information as quickly as before.
Some of the common symptoms of fatigue include:
- Loss of appetite
- Shortness of breath
- Slow speech
- Increased irritability
If you are experiencing some or even all of these symptoms following a traumatic brain injury, you are not alone. The good news is that it can be treated.
How to Manage Fatigue?
Since fatigue can be triggered by a variety of different things and can come at any given time, it’s important to be prepared.
Patients should primarily have contingency plans. It’s a good idea to always have someone by your side who can help you, especially if you’re going outside, using public transport, or visiting noisy shopping malls.
Scheduling rest periods during the day is crucial. You should give yourself enough time to take a break and recharge. If possible, avoid napping too long so that it doesn’t interfere with your normal sleep cycle.
As with any injury, following a concussion, you should ensure that you get plenty of sleep, eat healthy foods, and try to exercise when possible.
How Broadview Can Help
At Broadview Spine & Health Centre in Ottawa, we’ve successfully treated countless patients with concussions and traumatic brain injuries.
Contact us today to find out more about our services and to set up your first appointment.