Don’t Hold You Back: TBI Recovery!

Nothing is ever perfect in life! We humans are “Perfectly Imperfect” and so is life

I was in my (Vestibular) therapists’ office yesterday for yet another treatment due to a slight fall in January. We spoke on the critical factors of my brain’s delicateness. Although I have recovered, the next slight fall could severely damage or kill me. A very sobering conversation!

This knowledge requires I learn deeper skills from inside myself; how my body moves, how to protect myself instinctively and learn new techniques.

The attention now demanded of me in my once carefree life of dancing, equestrian riding, walking briskly, gymnastics ((Parkour (which I was really looking forward to) is out  of the picture, so is kickboxing!))

One pernicious jerk to my brain stem will lead to another concussion, possibly severe impairment or death due to an aneurysm.  My life has to change and become more inner protective, leaving out some risky areas!

Time to change the 3 senses we all use for balance and orientation to environmental life, from external (over dependency), focusing towards an internal target to correct my proprioceptors.

The caution stated here is not for all individuals to follow who have never sustain a TBI.  My delicateness is due to a childhood filled with many head injuries and my last 14 years, beginning with slipping on black ice.

TBI recovery is dependent on Neural Behavioral Rewiring, not Drugs!

Fact: Drugs do not teach a person coping skills in correcting functions such as different behavior, self awareness, internal focus to correct our sensory systems. We all must learn through life; Adaptable boundaries which lead to Resilience in life; our bodies depend on the messages sent back and forth from the brain to the body.

Drugs will not teach anyone these skills, but your Brain will! 

Drugs, medication have their place in medicine as a tool, mostly for systemic treatments or extreme onset of pain, the later use with caution.  Addictions are a high cost to pay, leading to dysfunctional crippling lives.

There is a balance through knowledge, TBI is an injury to the brain. Our recovery course is in changing our behavior and reactions which may have caused a great amount of anxiety, exacerbateing further dysfunctions.

Dizziness often occurs with TBIs, such as turning over in bed and feeling a sense of dizziness, or getting out of bed, up from a sitting position or simply turning a corner while walking, all are treatable without drugs. The therapeutic solution is rather easy, non evasive with quick results.

The following Vital information is from South Valley Physical Therapy here in Colorado:

“Our Balance system in orientating to our environment is dependent on 3 senses; Vision – Vestibular -Somatosensory/Proprioception.

  1. Vision – We use our vision continuously to know where our body is relative to the horizon and objects around us. When there is increased visual motion around us (such as walking in crowds), or when it is dark, we rely more on our other 2 sense, inner ear (vestibular) or body sensors (somatosensory/proprioceptive). When our proprioceptive systems are not working correctly, we tend to rely too much on vision and become visually dependent. Meaning, we use our vision excessively to maintain balance. Therefore, when it is dark or when vision is distracted, balance may be worse. Visual dependency can progress to “visual motion hypersensitivity” or “visual vertigo” in which we are over stimulated or dizzy by motion in our peripheral vision or by a lot of eye motion such as when reading, using computers, watching crowds, &c… This visual motion around us is falsely interpreted as motion of self.
  2. Vestibular- The inner ear sends our brain information about where our head is in space as well as information about how fast our head is moving. One part of the vestibular system, called the semicircular canals, gives our brain information about the rotational movement of the head. These canals (3) tell the brain how far the head turned and how quickly it turned by comparing signals from both the right and left sides. When the information from a canal on one or both sides is reduced (such as in vestibular hypofunction or unilateral vestibular weakness), the brain receives faulty information causing dizziness, imbalance, or gaze instability. A second part of the vestibular system is call the otoliths. The otoliths detect linear acceleration or if the head is moving forward, backward, up or down. The otoliths also detect how the head is lined up compared to gravity. “Otolith dysfunction or sensitivity” describes episodes when our brain receives incorrect regarding acceleration and deceleration of the body. e.g. stumbling when getting off a moving sidewalk or escalator, feeling funny getting off a treadmill or bicycle, or feeling carsick. Displacement of the calcium carbonate crystals normally found in the otoliths results in a condition called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), causing unstable vision (nystagmus) and vertigo. Symptoms last 5-60 seconds, but can cause disruption of the normal balance system.
  3. Somatosensory/Proprioception- Our muscles and joints have sensors that send our brain information about where our body is relative to the surface on which we are standing, sitting or lying. This information comes from each joint in our arms and legs as well as from the soles of our feet and the entire spine. The information becomes less accurate with conditions such as whiplash, arthritis/osteoarthritis, peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, and joint surgeries/replacements. The result of less accurate information is more difficulty balancing in the dark or increased symptoms when visual information is more complex.”

We can usually compensate when one system is not functioning as well as it should be. Those who have more than one system that is not working well typically need more time to adapt, are at higher risk of falls, have increased symptoms, and begin to alter their lifestyle. Anxiety commonly occurs when the balance system sends inaccurate information to other areas of the brain such as the brainstem and the emotional areas of the brain. Vestibular therapy exercises are designed to the balance system to adapt and respond normally.

Here is one area where anxiety can be reduced substantially, allowing other areas of the TBI injury to be observed and corrected through neural-behavior disciplines we (as professionals and many who are discovering a recovery process on their own), medications become more of a hindrance than augmenting an TBI injured person.

The validity of these examples are – drugs mask internal cognition verse cognitive thought-out behavior brings a clarity and new skill in coping, changing a damaged direction of the brain to a new neural network being formed in the brain with new directions in moving forward. Thereby relieving a TBI person of each agonizing dysfunction, finding coping and corrective skills gaining in progression.

Instinctively, after the onset of my first serious TBI, I refused all drugs and stated, “I want to face my life and emotions head on, not mask what I must deal with”. This action took two different positions: one, I was shamed and disgraced by my doctors in naming me a “difficult patient.” Attempting to disgrace me caused a further action on my part; “you are fired!” Lastly, I have been recovering all my life from many TBIs listening to my instincts. As an adult, seeking the proper doctors who were more educated in recent TBI recovery findings, where we could speak as adults and plan a course of action that was healthier in the long term to full recovery.

Yes, my brain stem will be forever fragile for the remainder of my life. Nothing is perfect in life!

Although Parkour is out as far as exercise, I still am able to Walk Briskly, ride my beloved Arabian horse, maybe not 10 to 15 endurance miles; but I can work back up to at least 5 endurance mile rides! And possibly dance again without being horribly dizzy.


March is TBI awareness month. I hope these articles have been of some help to the millions who are affected by TBIs, and I will diligently continue to write and speak on TBI recovery through behavioral techniques.


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About the Author: MicheleElys is a Neurobehaviorist ~ Writer ~ Educator ~ Keynote Speaker.

Concussions are a huge drain in the workplace!” 4-6 week training program relieving the agony of TBIs and concussions. 

Founder of NBR [neural behavior recognition]. A recovery model for Trauma/TBI Improvement, Recovery to maintenance, Need a Consult? Connect with MicheleElys email LinkedIn, 

MicheleElys All Rights Reserved©

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