Anyone who has ever undergone surgery will remember the moment, soon after the operation, when a doctor or nurse helped them get out of bed and go for a walk in the hallway of the hospital. Experts agree that it is important that surgical patients move around as soon as it is safe to do so, because it is helpful in recovery and reduces the risk of blot clots.
On the other hand, bed rest is a common prescription for brain injuries. Injured brains are often suffering from lack of blood flow, which can be exacerbated by too much moving around too soon after the trauma. It can also be challenging to find ways for brain injury patients to move around, especially if the injury is severe.
Still, some doctors are beginning to argue that some traumatic brain injury patients could benefit from limited moving around time. To prove her suspicion, one nurse at a neurointensive care unit started studying her patients. She kept track of more than 600 patients, most of whom she had get out of bed relatively quickly, often as soon as the same day they came to the hospital.
The nurse said her research indicates that early physical exercise helped many of her patients. Those who began rehabilitation earlier tended to spend less time in the ICU and in the hospital overall, and reported feeling better.
Getting out of bed as soon as possible may help the brain heal faster, by beginning the process of rewiring to adapt to the injury, a professor told NPR.
Though the brain often has a remarkable ability to heal after serious trauma, in many cases recovery is incomplete, if not highly limited. Even if a victim is able to recover fully, it could take him or her years of hard work to get back to where they were before the injury.