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Is it true that exercise helps to heal the brain?

What exercise is acceptable a couple months post-TBI?

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Answer transcribed from the Brightway Answers interview with recreation therapist Holly Auth:

Yes, physical and cognitive exercise both help to heal your brain.  One disclaimer I have is that you should always talk to your doctor or your physical therapist before you try starting any exercise.

One exercise that I can definitely promote is meditation. I know that a lot of people - when they hear meditation - they don't think of exercise, but it definitely is. Meditation is helpful for your body, your brain, and your mind. There is an excellent documentary on Netflix titled “Headspace - A Guide to Meditation”, and the narrator of this documentary does a great job explaining different types of meditation. They also actually do a short practice of that type of meditation that they were talking about towards the end.  So if you're interested in meditation, this is a great way to try it out and see if it's something you like.  They also have one titled “A Guide to Sleep”, although I haven't watched that one yet.

Senior physical therapist

Answer transcribed from Brightway's interview with Dr. Cristen Gordon (pt.1):


Yes, exercise helps to heal the brain in many ways. First off is just the cardio that you can get from exercising. The increase of blood circulation to the brain helps promote healing. It helps flow nutrients to the brain cells and actually helps them to heal on top of that. Besides strength training and cardio training is coordination training, where there are so many exercises you can do to challenge your brain that also helps it heal.


One of my favorite things to talk about is neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the fact that the brain can regenerate pathways and create new ways to accomplish things that need to be done after you've had a brain injury. If you have some damaged nerves or damaged brain cells that maybe will not reheal, the brain can actually regenerate new pathways around the damaged portions so that you can still regain function. The only way to facilitate making those new pathways is by challenging your brain, which means challenging your body. So again, that's beyond strength training. It's like even something as simple as bringing your thumb to your finger is a coordination exercise that forces the brain to learn how to do things. Neuroplasticity is the basis of everything a neuro-therapist does. Whether you're working with a physical therapist, occupational therapist, vision therapist, or speech therapist, it is the basis of what we do. We are always trying to create new pathways and strengthen existing pathways to improve function.