Yoga Therapy can be the path to health for someone who has sustained a traumatic brain injury.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a significant cause of death and disability in the United States. According to the Brain Injury Alliance, in a study done in 2014 an average of 155 people died each day from TBI. Survivors of TBI face impairments that can last a few days or the rest of their lives. This includes challenges related to memory, movement, sensation, and emotional functioning. These issues not only affect individuals but also have lasting effects on families and communities.
The correlation of TBI and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a disease that occurs to the brain after repeated traumatic brain injuries, is of serious concern for emotional health. Symptoms of CTE usually appear in a patient’s late 20s or 30s and affect a patient’s mood and behavior. As the disease progresses, symptoms increase. Patients experience problems with thinking and memory, including memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, and eventually progressive dementia.
For people directly, or indirectly, affected by TBI, it is uplifting to know that research is proving there is hope. Research shows implementing the tools of yoga therapy, including yoga and mindfulness techniques, significantly brings people back into a more joyful place with life. Yoga therapy helps improve mental health after Traumatic Brain Injury.
What is TBI?
For actual Traumatic Brain Injury to occur, there must be blunt trauma to the skull or head. When there is deceleration or acceleration causing brain matter to shift within the skull cavity, damage occurs. This movement of brain matter is incredibly harmful to the neural cells of the brain. It creates a significant shift in the way that information is processed. It also changes the way that daily life matters are handled.
A brain injury can create seizures, amnesia, severe confusion, fatigue, sleep challenges, loss of memory, nausea, vomiting, balance and coordination problems. Head injuries are also known to cause irritability, blurred vision, and cognitive swings in the handling of emotional, behavioral, and physical modalities. This often leads to a significant decrease in emotional health as well as a higher susceptibility to PTSD, as they often coincide in patients, especially soldiers of war.
TBI, CTE, and Yoga Therapy
Recent research shows that people affected by TBI have an improved state of well-being when practicing yoga or meditation daily. For people that endure TBI, life becomes measured according to a standard known as Health-Related Quality Of Life (HRQOL). After TBI, a person’s HRQOL plummets. But in study after study, meditation, one-pointed focus techniques and the various aspects of yoga therapy have assisted in reversing this downward spiral and improving a person’s HRQOL.
A study done at Colorado State University showed that Yoga Therapy techniques were monumental in improving the lives of the patients involved in the research. The neuroimaging research of the last few decades confirms that meditation and brain plasticity are linked. Meditation enhances cortical remapping and brain functions. Neuroimaging studies show the increased regional cerebral blood flow during meditation. Studies indicate neural pathways and synapses changes among meditators.
How Yoga Therapy Helps
These results indicate that mindfulness practices is not merely an altered state of consciousness or a state of relaxation, but a powerful tool to uplift mental health and cause healthy changes in the brain. Yoga, along with meditation, and the other tools in a yoga therapist’s tool belt can help individuals to find a more joyful place in their lives after TBI.
TBI is a life challenge that affects more families than realized. The correlation of TBI and CTE is of serious concern for emotional health. TBI can create a significant decrease in emotional health as well as a higher susceptibility to PTSD. However, research is suggesting that implementing the skills that a yoga therapist brings to the table into life significantly helps bring people back into a more joyful place with life after TBI.
If it wasn’t for the tools of yoga therapy, I wouldn’t be a Yoga Therapist today. It gave me my life back. It can do the same for you.