Healing Set Back?

There are many frustrating, angering and exhausting facts of life living with a brain injury. There are glimmers of hope as we progress and recover (which feel few and far between in the beginning). So, when a set back occurs a brain injury survivor is more susceptible to an intense experience of the return of TBI symptoms. Here are examples of setbacks:

  • New Injury- Tripping, falling or even as innocent as “over exertion” with chores/hobbies, motor vehicle accident etc. A person with a brain injury usually has spinal nerve sensitivity. Spinal nerves are more vulnerable to activities that are perceived to be a threat and will tense up, your brain dutifully sends alarm bells to your sympathetic nervous system, and sadly is in a state of healing and may be on guard for a while as you return to old activities and hobbies.
  • Cognitive Over-load- Perhaps you have returned to work a little earlier than you anticipated; read a book or engaged in web research for a topic you are motivated and excited about- you know when you’ve hit a wall!
  • Cold/Flu, Illness and/or Poor sleep Hygiene- People with brain injuries have compromised immune systems. Your brain is desperately trying to find networks and through the injury. An illness or lack of sleep will present a road block to progress, and….ignite TBI symptoms you thought were healing or resolved.
  • Change in Routine- A change in routine requires….your brain to process and navigate the change! This can be exhausting!! Be mindful when looking at your calendar, can you anticipate a change coming up?


As mentioned above, TBI symptoms get re-ignited when a setback occurs. It is important to take extra precaution and yield to your body that is in pain or your brain that is impaired. The sooner you recognize the set back the sooner you can take action and focus on healing/recovery from the new event. This may include notifying family and friends of your new injury and that your TBI symptoms are augmented. You may also consider returning to your compensatory behaviors you developed early in your healing (setting reminders to rest, eat and drink water, return to speech/physical therapy if that is what helped you before) to get through this rough spot as smoothly as possible.

The good news with these set backs is (if they are relatively minor), is you can notice recovery happening a bit faster than the initial brain injury! Pay attention and notice your strengths (daily if you can) 🙂

I hope this little article has been validating and helpful 🙂

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