One of the foundations of concussion recovery is managing one’s energy and symptoms. Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms in post-concussion syndrome, and while an individual is recovering energy management techniques can help one find that balance between rest and activity. Most people have some habits that may negatively impact recovery from a concussion. For example, often we will feel great, and when we feel great we will try to accomplish everything on our to-do list, which then results in that crash-and-burn syndrome. Some people also feel the obligation to push through the fatigue and push through the pain. These might be adaptive traits in some situations, but when recovering from a concussion, often the individuals that push themselves too hard, are the ones that experience prolonged recoveries.
As there is no miracle pill to cure fatigue, the best way to manage that symptom is often to adapt one’s lifestyle. Small changes can be made to the way that you do things throughout the day, that can impact both the level of fatigue that you experience, and also manage the other present symptoms of post-concussive syndrome. Essentially prioritizing what is most important, planning ahead, and pacing oneself are the most effective ways to be efficient with one’s energy. Additionally, other lifestyle factors that can be modified to impact energy, such as sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
As you progress through therapy, your resilience to life’s demands will also increase and you will find tasks to be less taxing. To progress efficiently through therapy, all factors related to your injury will have to be exposed and appropriate therapy prescribed. For example, some patients have other physiological reasons for fatigue that can be found in blood work, e.g. hormonal problems, vitamin/mineral deficiencies,etc., and so once these factors are corrected, the store of energy one will have will increase but it’s still a good idea to be efficient with the way you spend it. Another interesting example are those patients that have fatigue caused by inefficient breathing practices that alters their blood CO2 and corresponding acid-base levels. This can be identified with some biofeedback practices and then corrected. Breathing training for these patients is an effective way to slow down the depletion of their energy during a day.
Research & writing: Caitlin Heino
Last update: July 2018