The TBI Coach, Nathalie Kelly, explains cognitive fatigue in a way that everyone can understand. Brain fatigue is a huge debilitating issue for those with brain injuries and concusssions. See the full transcript below.
Hello my beautiful and courageous friends,
Do you find it hard to understand that at some moments someone with a TBI can appear to function pretty well, and a minute later they are stuttering and stumbling?
It’s called Cognitive Fatigue. Cognitive fatigue happens because the injured brain is working very hard . Since the old pathways are broken, your amazing brain is having to find new paths. when the brain is overloaded and it is like your brain switch being turned off. One minute you are there, and the next minute, it was too much, a fuse blew, and you are gone.
It can be so extreme of a contrast, that people get accused of faking their brain injury. That hurts!
The best explanation I have ever heard comes from Dr. Clark Elliott in his fabulous book “The Ghost in My Brain”. He came up with a great metaphor. It is as if we have 3 energy batteries, an A, B, C battery.
The most efficient battery is the A battery. For most people, it gets charged up each night with sleep,and lasts throughout the day. When the A battery gets used, we have to turn to our B battery. The B battery does not last as long and takes a lot longer to charge. When the B Battery runs down, we have to turn to our emergency battery, the C battery. The C battery should be for dire emergencies only. It only lasts a short while and it takes days to recharge. It’s kinda of like your laptop tells you you have 2% battery left. And then it shuts off and the screen goes black.
When you have a TBI, your A battery gets used up processing things that took no effort before. An enormous percentage of our brain’s energy goes toward processing vision. While it was no problem before, now Processing vision and sound, balance and motion, now takes most of your available energy. So your A batteries are always depleted.
You are now running on B batteries to do anything else, getting groceries, driving a car, going to work. They are not going to last long. And so you are dipping into the C batteries on a daily basis and not just during an emergency.
This is what it looks like when the C batteries are depleted. There will be days of sleep to pay for pushing it this far.
At the beginning of a brain injury when your brain is working really hard to find workarounds for the broken connections, you may be like this most of the time. Over time, as your brain slowly heals, your ability to process information improves and now your A battery has a little more capacity. As you get better you are tapping into you C battery less and less, perhaps only on rough days instead of everyday.
When you are fatigued, it is really important to sleep. That is the only way the batteries get charged again. And that is how our brain heals. New studies show that sleep is the process during which the brain dispels toxins so it can function at its best.
So, if someone you love has a Brain Injury and you can tell they are fatigued. What they need from you is an Immediate response. It takes less than a minute to go from one battery cell to the next, Take them out of the situation, the restaurant, the noise, and get them to quiet, dark, and rest ASAP. You do not want to linger. and You do not want to push the system into the C batteries.
Please share with our community your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below. What do you think of this A B C Battery metaphor? What helps you with cognitive fatigue?
Visit my website http://www.TheTBICoach.com for more helpful videos and tips and for my special report on 3 Things Everyone with a TBI Should Know.
via Traumatic Brain Injury: Understanding Fatigue – YouTube