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8 tips to keep your brain healthy

March 20, 2012 by Steven M. Gursten

Spread the word during Brain Injury Awareness Month and be good to your brains!

As part of Brain Injury Awareness Month in March, I’d like to share this list with my readers, family and friends.

Every year in the U.S., 1.7 million people will sustain a traumatic brain injury. TBI is most often caused by car accidents, slip and falls or trip and falls, sports injuries especially with children and young adults in high school, and sadly, in the last 10 years combat injuries.

We must always remember to take great care of our brains, as they are the very must important organ that we have. The good news for people who suffer brain injuries in car accidents is that the literature is very clear that many, even most will make very good medical recoveries. There is a percentage that most doctors put at approximately 20 percent of our population who do not make good recoveries from brain injury. It is a topic I write about often as a special challenge TBI lawyers face in courtrooms when defense doctors opine these people “should” have gotten better by now. But, by following the 8 tips below, you can increase your odds of making a good recovery.

1. Follow your doctor’s advice.

Your relationship with your doctor is critical to your health. Your doctor can help you maintain your health and help you change parts of your lifestyle that are putting you in danger. Always get regular checkups and physicals. And if you feel something isn’t right, even if it seems small, tell your physician.

2. Exercise regularly.
Exercise is also critical to brain health. It’s a problem for people who are recovering from physical injuries as well as brain injuries when this becomes difficult. But the studies show that people who exercise usually respond better to TBI. They also have better performance in a range of cognitive tasks compared to non-exercisers. Studies also show that physical activity is also associated with lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, according to Dr. Pascale Michelon in his article about physical exercise and brain health. Therefore, even if you are recovering after a bad car crash or fall, try to be as mobile as possible as early as possible. Get off the couch.

3. Don’t smoke.
Research says that there is a direct link to smoking and brain damage. According to the Journal of Neurochemistry, a compound in tobacco provokes white blood cells in the central nervous system to attack healthy cells, leading to severe neurological damage. Of course, smoking is a huge risk factor for cancer, heart disease and stroke. Interestingly, many neurosurgeons I know won’t even do spinal surgery until people have quit smoking, because the chance of complications increases so significantly. What’s bad for your body is bad for your brain.

4. Control your calorie intake.
This is a tough one when you are on a bunch of prescription medications after a car accident. Pain pills tend to cause many to gain weight. But weight, and especially obesity, is now linked to a decline in brain power. For instance, researchers at the University of California in an article published in the Archives of Neurology demonstrated a strong correlation between central obesity (being overweight in the middle section of your body) and shrinkage the hippocampus, the part of the brain that’s fundamental for memory.

5. Have fun and be social.
Again, a lot easier to say than do if you are in pain and recovering from injuries after a bad car accident. But trying to socialize, smile and laugh really has positive effects on the brain and your medical recovery. Human interaction is also critical, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at Kaiser-Permanente, also published The American Journal of Public Health. Researchers spent five years charting the social lives and mental performance of 2,249 older women. The women with active social lives were half as likely to suffer from dementia than those who had weak networks. Pain patients, and especially those with TBI and depression, tend to shut themselves off from the world. But friends and family become more important than ever after a brain injury.

6. Engage in mentally stimulating activities.

Mental stimulation is an important way to develop a stronger, healthier brain. According to fitbrains.com, a 2006 study by Dr. Sherry Willis and colleagues with the National Institute on Aging was the first to document long-term, positive effects of cognitive training on brain function. The study proved that at nearly any point in life, you can strengthen your brain by doing tasks that are new and complex, and that stimulate a variety of areas within the brain.

7. Reduce stress (and pain).

Stress is not good for the brain. Pain is worse. In fact, a chronic overreaction to stress overloads the brain with powerful hormones that are intended only for short-term duty in emergency situations. Their cumulative effect damages and kills brain cells, according to the Franklin Institute and countless medical studies. Read about the connection between brain injury and chronic pain.

8. Be careful!
Again, the two highest causes of traumatic brain injury are car accidents and falls such as slip and falls and trip and falls.. Please try to be aware. Accidents do happen, but if you are alert and aware of your surroundings and your movements, you are less likely to be hurt. And remember to wear a seatbelt in a car, and a helmet while biking.

If you have anything to add, please make a comment below or send me a message.

How you can help raise money for traumatic brain injury survivors in Michigan – without paying a thing

Just a reminder, as part of Brain Injury Awareness month, Michigan Auto Law is raising $10,000 for brain injury survivors. But we need a little help from the Facebook community.

For every “Like” Michigan Auto Law receives on Facebook, we will donate $1 — up to $10,000 — to the Brain Injury Association of Michigan.

Here’s our Michigan Auto Law Facebook page.

Please help our lawyers raise money for this very important cause and be good to your brains.

Steven M. Gursten is a brain injury attorney and head of Michigan Auto Law. He is a member of the Executive Board of the American Association for Justice Traumatic Brian Injury Lawyer Group and sits on the lawyer committee of the Sarah Jane Brain Project. Steve has received the highest reported trial verdict and settlement for a TBI victim in Michigan, according to published reports by Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

Related information to protect yourself:

Traumatic brain injury could increase stroke risk

TBI symptoms

Mild traumatic brain injury FAQs

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm in the state exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident lawsuits. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights. Call (800) 777-0028 to speak with one of our brain injury attorneys today.

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