Managing Fatigue

Fatigue is a common and very disabling symptom experienced by people with a brain injury.

It may be a continual sense of mental fatigue or it can happen when a person is trying to do too much and the brain is overloaded, often resulting in mind-numbing fatigue that can last for several days. Here are some tips for coping with fatigue:

  • Contingency plans: Fatigue may occur at the least convenient times – on public transport or during a meeting. You need to negotiate ways of coping when this happens. You can use specific strategies or call in extra support. Work out contingency plans with your family member. Your rehab team, occupational therapist or physiotherapist can help with suggestions.
  • Assess best hours: Some people function best in the mornings, so complete demanding tasks then. Others function better in the afternoon or the evening. Organize your routine accordingly. Don’t drive when you are tired.
  • Assess your environment: Provide an uncluttered environment that is easy to move around and work in. Think about how and where things are stored; bench heights, entrances, types of furnishing and lighting. For example, some people may find fluorescent lighting or dim lighting more tiring.
  • Schedule rest periods: Make a daily or weekly schedule, and include regular rest periods. “Rest” means do nothing at all. If you have a nap, don’t oversleep in case this affects your normal sleep cycle.
  • Break it down: Break down activities into a series of smaller tasks. This provides opportunities to rest while allowing the person to complete the task. Encourage sensible shortcuts.
  • Set priorities: Focus on things that must be done and let the others go.
  • Healthy lifestyle: With virtually every aspect of a traumatic brain injury and similar brain disorders, fatigue will be less of a problem if you focus on a healthy lifestyle.
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