Come Run with Me for Brain Injury, May 19!

3 years ago, I wasn’t sure whether I’d ever return to normal life. Shortly after my brain injury, while I was still wallowing around trying to find proper medical care, one doctor told me not to run for 3 months.

Well, that turned out to be a bit of an understatement. It was 2 years before I could even attempt to run again because my head would hurt too much when I did.

Helllloooooo, migraine that hadn’t ever left in the first place!

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February 23, 2015, two days after my injury. Completely thrashed.

That was back before I understood the importance of blood flow and exercise for healing mild traumatic brain injury.

“One possible contributor to sustained symptoms may be compromised cerebrovascular regulation. In addition to injury-related cerebrovascular dysfunction, it is possible that prolonged rest after mild traumatic brain injury leads to deconditioning that may induce physiologic changes in cerebral blood flow control that contributes to persistent symptoms in some people. There is some evidence that exercise training may reduce symptoms perhaps because it engages an array of cerebrovascular regulatory mechanisms.” Cerebrovascular regulation, exercise, and mild traumatic brain injury

For a long time I struggled mightily to even get out of bed and simply walk around my house. Eventually I graduated to walking around my yard, my neighborhood, and then the gym. I don’t know if I could have gone faster than I did, and I’m certainly glad I wasn’t out trying to pound the pavement to work out. I was literally working with all the energy I had at my disposal and didn’t yet know how to manage it or create more of it. But if I had known how important it was to get up and moving and getting the blood flowing, I think my recovery might have been even faster.

Even today I still don’t run on a track and mostly stick to stationary bikes or walking. One day, I hope to have a much higher level of fitness.

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Knitting while biking at the gym, for extra brain challenge.

Thanks to Dr. Johnson at Amen Clinics, I learned the power of progressive exercise and also how different types of exercise target different parts of the brain. My work at the gym and in yoga class has helped me get even more of my brain back over the past year. Still, I go through periods where I am extremely sedentary, which I know is to my detriment.

That’s why I’ve decided to participate in the Brain Injury Alliance of Utah 5k Run, Walk, Roll. It gives me a fitness goal to work toward, even though I don’t plan to run the whole thing, and a way to support those who are fighting the good fight.

Brain Injury Alliance of Utah is a great local organization that offers services to brain injury survivors for FREE. If you’ve had a brain injury, you know how darn expensive it is to recover properly. If you’ve had a brain injury, you also know how important it is to have a community that knows what you’ve gone through. BIAU knows the power of both.

BIAU runs a free yoga class that they also livestream through Facebook (really important if you can’t leave your house!). Even though I’ve only been to one of their classes, I was impressed. They offer brain-based education before each session, so you can learn more about the brain, and it was great to be among other people going through the same recovery process. Having an understanding of how your brain works has been vital for my recovery. You become your own advocate and your own health-problem solver, looking for new treatments and making sure you’ve looked down every avenue for help.
I wish I’d been able to take advantage of their statewide resource facilitation appointment, where they help survivors and their families get to the proper resources for their recovery. This would have been hugely helpful all along but especially in my early days of recovery since I had no idea where to go to get proper help.

Come celebrate my brain injury recovery and help me pay it forward!

I’m running this race with my family and friends as a celebration of how far I’ve come. I’m hoping to raise awareness of brain injury and support those who are going through the recovery process. I hope I’ll see you there!

Join my team by registering for the event. Add TAOS (which stands for The Art of Striving) as your team and you save 10% on your registration fee of $35.

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More articles on exercise following TBI.

Aerobic Exercise Following TBI (Brainline.org, Internet article)

Research: Aerobic exercise shows promise for treatment of wounded warriors with mild traumatic brain injury (Internet article)

Exercise after Traumatic Brain Injury, from the American Physical Therapy Association, Section on Neurology (PDF)

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