Recovering from a brain injury is certainly possible with the right exercise plan. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the best exercises you can carry out at home to help the rehabilitation process.
As we all know, our brains are incredibly sensitive and, as a result, suffering a brain injury can have a range of potential consequences for our general health. Our cognition and physical strength can easily be affected following a brain injury. This goes to demonstrate how important the rehabilitation period is.
Of course, brain injuries are treated very differently from any other type of injury when it comes to rehabilitation. When you injure your brain, you need to make sure that you focus on your balance, strength, and coordination through a variety of different exercises.
If you’re currently seeking compensation for a traumatic brain injury, or are dealing with the long-term effects of one, these simple home exercises may help. Of course, you should always follow the advice of your doctor before trying any of the below out.
10 Home Exercises to Follow After a Brain Injury
1. Ankle Rotations
Depending on the type and severity of brain injury, the balance may be adversely affected, which could prevent the ability to stand unaided, or walk without feeling dizzy.
Regaining your balance after a brain injury can be an arduous process, but you always need to start small and build yourself back up. When our bodies experience a loss of balance, the muscles in our ankles are someone of the first to contract, which means they don’t have the same strength to effectively support our weight.
You can counter this by performing some simple ankle rotations while seated, isolating your leg so that your ankle is the only thing moving. You can repeat this two or three times a day for a few minutes at a time.
2. Heel and Toe Raises
Another ankle strengthening exercise you can focus on is heel-toe raises. These can be completed in a standing position to add extra resistance, building up the muscles quicker.
Simply stand behind the back of a chair for support and raise your heels up so you are balancing on your toes. Slowly bring your heels back down flat, and repeat.
3. Sitting to Standing Position
Another muscle group that is normally affected when we suffer a loss of balance is our hip muscles. Our hip muscles (or hip abductor muscles) are essential for remaining stable when we are walking or standing on one leg – not that you’ll be doing the latter all that often!
You can strengthen your hip muscles following a brain injury by repeating a ‘sitting to standing’ motion. From here, you can gradually make this more intense by adding a resistance band which increases the load on your hips, aiding your balance further.
4. Lateral Trunk Exercises
Strengthening your core is vital after a brain injury, but you probably shouldn’t start with intense core exercises like crunches or sit-ups right away! Instead, you can turn your attention toward ‘lateral trunk exercises’.
Lateral trunk exercises see you seated in a chair, before dipping one of your shoulders down to the corresponding hip. You then use your core to bring yourself back up and then repeat on the other side. If you find this difficult to start with, you can use your arms to help bring your body back upright.
5. Balance Board
This is a piece of exercise equipment you can easily get your hands on. It will come in very useful while you’re rehabilitating at home following a brain injury.
Balance boards are small, round boards with a spherical base that require practice to be able to stand on without the sides touching the ground. They encourage good balance and are a natural next step if you feel as though you’re making significant progress with your other balance exercises.
6. Shoulder Abduction
Now, we’re working our way up the body to focus on upper body strength, which is often lost following a brain injury. Building basic upper body strength is much easier than you might think, so you won’t need to worry about lifting any heavy weights – not yet anyway!
You can start with shoulder abduction exercises; you’ll need a resistance band for this exercise. With these, you’ll wrap one end of a resistance band around the sole of your foot, holding the other end. You then extend your arm up and out to your side. Then slowly bring your arm up and as high above your shoulder as possible.
7. Pushing Movements
This may be the simplest exercise on the list, but it’s surprisingly effective! Another way of building up your upper body and arm strength following a brain injury is to perform pushing movements on a flat surface.
Start by placing something with a decent amount of weight to it (such as a small bottle of water) on a table in front of you. Then, slowly use the outside of your arm to push the object out to the side, before using the inside of your arm to bring it back into the center.
8. Bicep Curls
No, you don’t need huge dumbbells for this one. You only need something relatively light, to begin with. How about that water bottle from the pushing movements exercise? Very convenient, right?
Bicep curls are pretty self-explanatory. Hold the object in your hand and rest your arm by your side. Keep your elbow to your side and flex your bicep to bring the object up to your shoulder. Bring it back down and repeat.
9. Stationary Cycling
Traditional cycling will probably be beyond your immediate capabilities following a brain injury, but you can always hop on a stationary bike to build up your leg muscles.
This will be dependent on whether you have space and money to buy one, but they can be incredibly beneficial when you’re coming to the end of your rehabilitation period.
Granted, this exercise does mean leaving the house, but it’s important all the same. Once you’re ready to do so, it’s important to build up your range of motion by going out on gentle walks.
To start with, your walks don’t have to be far – going to the corner and back will be more than enough. It’s important to get your joints moving so that you can start to regain some independence.
Are You Rehabilitating Following a Brain Injury?
And that’s all! The most important thing to keep in mind with regards to these exercises, as well as recovering from a brain injury in general, is that patience is key. It will take time to get back to your normal self, so take each in your stride and don’t be disheartened if you suffer a setback.
What’s more, it’s also really important that you seek the advice of your doctor before partaking in any of these exercises. They will be able to advise you on whether you’re physically capable to try these without getting injured.
Have you got any more exercise tips for anyone who has suffered a brain injury? Feel free to leave them in the comments below.