Men's Health: Retrain Your Brain

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Men's Health: Retrain Your Brain

In honor of Men’s Health Month, we wanted to take the time to talk about a serious problem many men face; strokes and traumatic brain injuries. In fact, strokes are the leading cause of disability and the third leading cause of death in the United States. With such a high prevalence of strokes and brain injuries, it’s important to understand what you should do following one of these events.


Strokes and brain injuries, such as concussions or head trauma, can make it hard to do the simplest tasks. Walking, talking, exercising, and even feeding yourself can be much more difficult than they were before. Thankfully, physical therapy can literally retrain your brain to function the way it did before. By teaching the motor pathways that were damaged to function again, you can regain most, if not all, of the lost functions. Therapy can begin at very early stages of the patient’s recovery. As soon as consciousness is regained after an injury, the rehabilitation can start.


For starters, building the ability to maintain alertness as well as follow commands is a huge step in the recovery process. Although this may seem like a simple step, it can be one of the biggest milestones to achieve as it leads to the next steps. Many people remain in bed following a stroke or injury because they lose basic muscle functions. This becomes an ideal time for physical therapists to work on the patient’s ability to move around in bed. Sitting without support, bending arms and legs, and twisting from side to side are all muscle building moves that will help later in therapy.


Once the patient is able to stand, a more targeted approach to therapy can begin. Depending on the patient’s typical routine, the physical therapist may focus on different aspects of recovery. Whether its balance for the avid golfer, hand-eye coordination for the carpenter, or leg strength for the runner, now is the time to rebuild those strengths. Or, if the injury is too severe and limitations prevent the individual from returning to preinjury activities, the physical therapist can help the individual adjust to their brace, harness, walker or other assistive device.


This month, and every month, it is important to focus on health. But it is important to know that if something does happen, physical therapists are always here to help. It’s also good to know that you can retrain your brain to not only overcome traumatic injuries, but to surpass what you thought you were capable of. Be sure to visit NARA and check out our webinars to stay up to date on therapy resources.