By Cate Cummings APRN, FNP, IFMCP
I have been on a big learning curve recently after a significant head trauma which happened while calmly standing next to one of my horses. I have no memory of the incident (which has its pros and cons!), but as a result I set about to understand what really has been going on inside that boney skull of mine!
Before I begin to share the exciting information about healing from brain trauma, I just want to say that I was extremely fortunate to have my husband, Ron, nearby to save my life and that my brain injury did not impact my frontal cortex (so that, as a result, I can still think clearly!). It did impact my cerebellar region which is at the back of the skull, so I have some balance issues that I am busy healing up. Five weeks after the injury, I rode one of my horses and that was very uplifting as I love being with them. The very process of riding my horse works toward healing my brain because riding requires the cerebellar neurons to get to work enabling me to balance better. That is a fun way to exercise my brain for healing!
So, getting back to the amazing information that I learned about brain trauma. Did you know that only 10% of our brain is actually made up of neurons – the specialized cells that send and receive messages to make our body move, give us conscious thought, etc.? That is right, they only make up 10% of our brain volume. So, what else is in there?
The other 90% of brain tissue is made up of glial cells (called this because a long time ago researchers thought these cells had no other function than to act like ‘glue’ and hold the brain together. But, with further research, it is now known that healthy glial cell function is extremely important for brain health. There are 3 main types of glial cells:
1) Oligodendrocytes which provide myelin sheaths to speed nerve messages along from neuron to neuron.
2) Astrocytes which keep our blood-brain barrier (BBB) intact and also have an important role in overseeing how neurons talk to each other at the synapse (the place where the neurons meet and where messages travel to the next neuron in the line).
3) Microglial cells which actually move around in a healthy brain doing housekeeping and surveillance! Yes, we have cells which normally move around in our brain tissue to keep it healthy! OMGosh, I did not know I had bug-like cells moving around in my skull helping me out!
There are many things which happen when we have a brain trauma. Much of what happens is dependent on your underlying health before the brain injury, the area of the brain that is impacted, and the resources you have available to help you heal your brain.
No matter where your noggin gets knocked, there are many easy and inexpensive lifestyle factors you can do to help heal your brain. Here are some good things to keep in mind:
But, please remember also, that when your brain is injured, it is important to not overwork it either! If you overwork an area of injured brain, you may become fatigued which is how your brain tells you that it is time to take a rest.
There is a lot more to healing from a brain injury, but at a minimum you might want to consider working on the important lifestyle factors of good quality sleep, not being anemic, keeping your blood sugar under control, minimizing stress, positive thinking, and doing specific exercises to stimulate the area of the brain that needs help.
Source: Datis Kharrazian, Neuroinflammation course, https://kharrazianinstitute.com
In later blogs I will discuss other factors that are involved in brain health.
Stay well and may the Horse be with you always, safely!
Update October 29, 2020: P.S. I am no longer having balance issues from my injury back in late July, 2020! I hope this news helps anyone who needs encouragement because our bodies are very capable of healing many challenges when we provide the right environment.
Make Your Horse Proud and be well every day in every way!
Thank you, Cate :)
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