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Eating/Exercising Post-Concussion

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hi all,

i got a severe concussion three weeks ago- spent 4 days in the hospital, 5 in my university's infirmary.  i have two cerebral contusions (basically brain bruises), so the headache basically never goes away.

anyway, the questions are these:

i'm not allowed to perform any exercises that jostle the brain or raise my pulse too significantly (aka cardio); any thoughts about how to not completely lose all muscle tone while i'm waiting on the okay to exercise?

second part- i'm nauseous or on the verge of nausea about 75% of the time, which is seriously diminishing my desire to eat.  eating doesn't make the nausea worse, because the nausea's not related to a stomach problem, but it's still not really easy to force yourself to eat when you're queasy.  eating toast and crackers and so on for weeks is not a brilliant idea in the grand scheme of things, so any ideas of bland ways of improving my nutrition while the nausea lasts?

thanks for any responses in advance!


PS my doctors know about the nausea; there's not really a concern about anything else being wrong, i've had every test on my head imaginable.  it's just part of the post-concussive-contusion thing.

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I think you should allow yourself to recouperate and for the nausea to pass completely before you start doing any exercise.  Gentle walks are a good way to stay active, get some fresh air and keep the heart pumping, but I really wouldn't go for anything more strenuous until you feel 100%.

As for nutrition.  Fluids are a good choice.  If you can make or get your hands on some nourishing soups... the old Jewish cure for all ills  'Chicken Soup' has a lot more mileage than you think.   Simple light foods like steamed fish, stewed fruit, scrambled eggs, fruit juices, toast & crackers (why not?), oatmeal, yoghurt.  They're all pretty good, even if you can only manage a small amount.   On top, you should probably take some vitamin pills or a vitamin solution so that you're not missing out.

Hope you feel better soon.


Your brain needs to rest so that it can recover from your injury. The pain and nausea are indicators that it is not healed yet, and you need to take notice. A concussion as serious as yours can have lifelong after-effects if it's not treated appropriately. So definitely no exercise! Probably the best you can do is light stretching (don't raise/lower your head, just stretch your legs and arms in a seated position) and gentle walking. You're not going to lose all muscle tone unless you lie in bed immobile. Just getting up and moving around the house will help. When you get the okay to exercise properly again, it'll be harder because you have to start from the beginning, but it doesn't take trained muscles long to 'remember' where they were before.

Doing things like walking, isometric contractions (contracting muscles without moving them, for example: tense up your calf muscles and relax), stretching, and gentle exercises like leg raises will not harm your head. Just do them slowly and pay attention to how you are feeling. You might want to monitor your heart rate to make sure it doesn't increase too much. As your symptoms (headaches, nausea, etc) decrease, you can start slowly working back toward regular exercise.

I am currently a student athletic trainer who has worked with several different sports and many athletes. When one of our athletes gets a concussion, they are given a questionnaire that they have to fill out based on the previous 24 hours that addresses concussion symptoms. When all of their answers say "no," that is the first sign that he/she might be able to participate again. We then do other little tests to make sure that they didn't lie on the questionnaire.

For you, I would say you should keep track of your symptoms. This means type of symptom, what time it started, how long it lasted, how bad it is (like on a scale of 1-10), etc. This will be good for both you and your doctor so that both of you can know when you are getting better.

As for the nausea, have you tried things like Tums or Pepto Bismol?

3 Replies