Why do I feel fatigued with traumatic brain injury?

Fatigue is a common symptom of traumatic brain injury, both in the acute stages of recovery up to 10 years after the trauma. While there few studies on fatigue and traumatic brain injury, people who experience this symptom know how it affects their mood, productivity, relationships, and other physical symptoms. Along with TBI causing fatigue, some of the medications you might take for brain injury can cause fatigue, including anti-depressants, pain medications and anti-seizure medications.

Talk openly with your doctor about the fatigue with TBI. Ask if changes in medications may help your situation. Also, try to get more rest throughout the day. Even a short morning and afternoon rest may help you get through your day without feeling exhausted. Make sure you go to bed and wake up at the same time each day and avoid alcohol and caffeine before bedtime if you have sleep problems. Try not to take on the world but slowly build up your strength and endurance after traumatic brain injury. It will take time for your body to heal, so make sure you avoid over-commitment that can increase the feelings of fatigue with TBI.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, MD
Emergency Medicine
It's not unusual to feel sleepier than normal after having a concussion--some people also may feel that they have confusion, memory loss, or just are thinking as if they're "in a fog".  
Usually, symptoms will start to improve around one week, and resolve after 2-3 weeks.  You can help your symptoms by taking this time to get plenty of sleep, avoiding heavy physical activity, easing your load of mental activity (especially things that require a great deal of concentration), remaining well hydrated, and avoiding alcohol.  
A concussion is your brain's way of telling you it's been injured--just the same as a bruise or cut on your skin. Listen to your concussion symptoms and modify your lifestyle as long as you have them--giving your brain the important time that it needs to heal and get back to normal.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.