During Action for Brain Injury Week, Headway, the brain injury association’s campaign is called Brain Drain: Wake up to fatigue, raising awareness and breaking the stigma of brain injury-related fatigue.
Fatigue is one of the most often reported symptoms following a brain injury. It isn’t just being tired, as we all experience after a long day. After brain injury, many people suffer with extreme fatigue, which can be present all the time and doesn’t get better, even with rest. It can have a massive impact on someone’s ability to do normal day to day activities because they feel so exhausted and it can also impact on mood.
Fatigue can also make worse other problems caused by a brain injury, such as slurred speech, increased levels of irritability, memory, increased dizziness and poor balance. Sometimes it is extremely difficult for someone with a brain injury to recognise early warning signs, e.g. yawning more, losing concentration, blurred vision etc.
Headway reports that research studies have shown there are many different factors that can make someone more likely to suffer fatigue and there are also differences in how they respond to that fatigue. Some of those factors include anxiety, cognitive difficulties, hormonal changes, medication and sleep problems.
Triggers to fatigue come in many different forms; they can include being in a busy place such as a supermarket, for example, or trying to focus and concentrate on a conversation in a noisy environment. Driving can increase fatigue, as can working on a computer. Headway highlights that it is very important to recognise that some activities are more tiring, and that managing fatigue through planning is key.
Managing fatigue after brain injury is very important: there isn’t one solution for all and each person is different. But having strategies in place, being realistic in planning and recognising that it may not be possible to do as much as you did before your brain injury are all important. Pace activities with frequent breaks and try to prioritise what you want to focus on. Getting to know what your own triggers are and adopting relaxation techniques that work for you can help manage fatigue. Headway also supports the need for a good sleep routine, along with exercise, which has a positive effect on mood. Good nutrition and hydration are important, as are practical strategies such as lists and reminders.
Lyons Davidson’s specialist Brain Injury team is Laura Merry. In the past 12 months in excess of £16 million pounds compensation has been achieved, which has gone some way to support the victims and their families following brain injury. If you have questions about any of the issues raised in this article or about a head or brain injury claim, contact Laura by emailing [email protected] or calling 0117 9045718. Look out for Hats for Headway on Friday!