Brain injuries: how brain activity can make an active difference

Brain injuries

The human brain controls everything happening in your body – thoughts, emotions, senses, motor skills, breathing, hunger, temperature regulation and much, much more. The brain sends and receives chemical and electrical messages throughout your body using billions of neurons (nerve cells) in your central nervous system.

Like every other part of your body, your brain can be injured. Acquired brain injury can happen through:

  • Trauma such as a car crash or a collision on the footie field
  • Infections such as meningitis or encephalitis
  • Loss of oxygen to the brain
  • Stroke
  • Toxic substances such as alcohol or other drugs
  • Degenerative neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and Alzheimer’s Disease

As you might expect after a list like that, brain injury is relatively common. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that 700,000 Australians have a brain injury that limits their daily activities and participation. About 75% of these people are under 65 and two-thirds of them acquired their brain injury before the age of 25. Most people with a brain injury are men.

Brain injury can cause a range of physical symptoms such as balance and coordination difficulties, weakness or paralysis, and fatigue. It can also cause hidden disabilities affecting thinking, emotions, behaviour and personality.

No two brain injuries are the same. Each person needs a tailored rehabilitation program, which may include physiotherapy, support at home or work, and medication.

Now, there’s growing interest in ways to stimulate brain activity in order to improve quality of life after brain injury. That’s exactly what we offer at Neurofit.

Stimulating brain activity

Your brain responds to many different kinds of stimuli. We can harness that response and use it for therapeutic purposes so that brain activity makes an active difference after a stroke or a traumatic brain injury, for example.

There are many evidence-based therapies designed to stimulate the chosen area of the brain. Let’s explore a few.

Light therapy

Photobiomodulation (PBM) is a process where low-level laser or LED light produces energy at a cellular level. The light penetrates the cell’s powerhouse, known as the mitochondria and stimulates a series of changes that increase blood flow and oxygenation and help the cell to function better.

PBM therapy has been shown to improve executive function, working memory and sleep in people with traumatic brain injury.

Transcranial PBM therapy involves attaching red or near-infrared light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to a number of locations on the head. One study explored the effects of this treatment on patients who had sustained a TBI anytime from 10 months to 8 years ago in a range of different situations including car accidents, sports collisions and blast injuries.

Patients had the LED cluster heads applied to 11 locations on the scalp, including the hairline, midline from front-to-back hairline and at several places on each side of the head. They received this treatment 3 times a week for 6 weeks.

It made a significant difference. At the end of the study, patients demonstrated significant improvements in executive function and verbal memory along with fewer post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.

As for stroke, there are encouraging results from animal studies. PBM has been shown to have a promising effect on neuronal repair after ischaemic stroke in rats.

Music therapy

Music therapy is not about learning an instrument but about harnessing music’s power to improve function. When stroke patients sing songs or listen to music, they’re doing more than enjoying a good time – they’re rewiring their brains.

Music therapy helps promote neural plasticity, regulate neural networks and improve motor function. And it’s good fun too.

Video games

While the majority of strokes happen in older people, the average age is getting younger. In 2018, nearly 40% of people experiencing a stroke were aged 40-69, according to Public Health England.

Though it’s rare, kids, too, can experience stroke. About 600 Aussie kids have a stroke each year and live with its effects.

Video games are a surprising tool in stroke rehab.

One study split 14 stroke patients into two groups and measured their muscle strength, muscle tone and ability to complete daily tasks. For the next 6 weeks, one group played Xbox Kinect for an hour a day for 3 days per week in addition to their conventional occupational therapy. The other group received conventional occupational therapy only (30 minutes a day for 3 days a week). At the end of the study, the researchers once again measured participants’ muscle strength, muscle tone and ability to complete daily tasks and compared the post-test results to the pre-test results. They found that the people who’d been playing Xbox regularly now had better motor function and were better able to complete daily activities.

How Neurofit Brain Centre can help

At Neurofit Brain Centre, we believe that brain activity makes an active difference. We employ a number of evidence-based therapies to stimulate your brain in the right places to improve your function and your quality of life.

That starts with a thorough assessment and understanding of your condition and your lifestyle. Then it involves a combination of different treatments using light, sound, video games and much more. It’s non-invasive, enjoyable therapy that helps to rewire your brain after an acquired brain injury.

If you’d like to learn more, please contact us.