Brain Waves: UAB TBI Model System Newsletter Volume 18 | Number 1 | Page 2

LIFE AFTER TBI Managing Your Health During Covid-19 Managing health can be a challenge under the best of conditions after traumatic brain injury (TBI). It can be stressful for both people with TBI and their family. It is especially tough when you are trying to manage the stresses of life during this COVID-19 pandemic. So, what can you do to ease the stress? Know the COVID-19 facts The disease is named “coronavirus disease 2019” and abbreviated “COVID-19.” It is a new disease, so there is still much that is unknown about it. Here are some key facts. • COVID-19 attacks the respiratory system (mainly the lungs) and can cause mild to severe illness. • The most common symptoms of the virus are fever, chills, cough, and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. • COVID-19 can spread personto-person. This means that a person with the virus can spread it to another person through respiratory droplets (like coughing or sneezing) and close personal contact. • People who are infected by the virus may or may not show any Get Involved In UAB Research! Brave Initiative The University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB) aims to improve the motor deficit of veterans who have sustained a traumatic brain injury. Potential participants must: • be at least 19 years old and 3 months post TBI; • have movement problems or weakness of the arms, but the ability to make at least some limited movements with the more affected hand; • have no excessive pain; and • be able to undergo MRI If you believe you meet the criteria above and would like to participate in this study, Go to the website, call 205-934-9768, or email for more information. symptoms but can still spread the virus to others. • People with underlying medical conditions, which are more common among people who are older and people with disabilities, are more likely to develop serious illness if infected with the virus. Get information from reliable sources Information on COVID-19 can quickly change from day-to-day. This makes it harder to stay up to date on facts. Plus, it is easy to get bombarded with information from multiple sources. You have the traditional sources from TV and countless other sources on the internet. It can be hard to know what sources you can trust for reliable information. You do not want to take risks when it comes to information crucial to your health. This is why it is generally recommended that you rely on trusted sources any time it relates to your health. Medical professionals strongly suggest that you get your information from these reliable sources. • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the top resource for coronavirus information, including a full list of symptoms, how to protect yourself, and what to do if you think you may have the virus. • State Departments of Public Health ares your top source for local information, including current situations on testing and government orders or guidelines for your community. Staying healthy You might think about staying healthy as having many parts. Each part serves an important role, so you want to make each one a part of your daily routine. • Maintain your daily routine as best as you can. I know this is hard, but do your best to keep some normalcy in this abnormal time. • Most communities are reopening to try to get back to normal. There are guidelines to help prevent the virus during this time, and it can be frustrating to see that others are not following the recommended guidelines as you do. You cannot control what other people do or do Scale Up Project Evaluating Responsiveness to Home Exercise And Lifestyle Tele-Health (SUPER-HEALTH) This study evaluates the effects of an exercise program on improving pain, fatigue, physical activity, and physical function. The program is delivered through a tablet app in the convenience of the home using exercise videos. Criteria to Participate • Ages 18-64 • Mobility Impairment/Disability • WiFi Internet access in Home Participants receive a tablet and Fitbit to use during study and are eligible to keep all equipment at the completion of last study visit. Visit, call (205) 403- 5509, or email [email protected]. not do. Focusing on others only adds to your frustration. Simply focus on things you can control to keep safe. • Good health habits. There are a few things that most everyone can do to help stay mentally and physically healthy. You want to do these things all the time, but they are especially important when you are trying to manage the stresses of life during this CVID- 19 pandemic. • Eat healthy and drink plenty of water. People often eat too much or too little when under stress. You might make water your drink of choice along with making healthy food choices. • Get sleep. Simply put, your body and mind work best if you get proper sleep, and we all need to be on top of things these days. That said, it might be harder to do if you have changes in your daily schedule. So do your best to keep your regular sleep schedule. • Exercise. Exercising helps you to maintain good physical and mental health, and it can be a great way to burn off some energy and relieve stress. Keep in mind that outdoor exercise and walking are generally good activities, but you want to make sure you follow any local recommended guidelines set to help prevent the spread of the virus. • Do enjoyable activities. Read a book, watch movies, binge watch TV shows, play games, and be creative in finding other fun activities to do. Think about distance gaming activities like group video chat games. • Unplug. Set a time limit on how much screen time you spend on electronic devices. Balance your time with other activities such as puzzles, reading, and exercise. • TBI health habits. Most people with TBI should be mindful of a few areas of importance after TBI. • Cognitive health. It’s important to find activities to be involved in while at home and remaining cognitively active – games, puzzles, cards, taking up a new hobby. Try some new apps and YouTube videos. And if you are looking for activities, check out these homebased cognitive stimulation activities. • Emotional heath. It is understandable for everyone to experience higher levels of stress as you spend more and more time together as you isolate yourself during this time. Here are a few things for people with TBI and family members to consider to help manage emotional health. • For people with TBI, you may need to remove yourself from a situation when you are feeling upset or frustrated with those around you. You may need to exercise if you are getting stressed. You may also utilize deep breathing and relaxation apps to manage stress. • As a family member, you probably know how to manage potential issues, but be mindful that you may need to prioritize some conversations or disagreements. Some may be worth having, but you might ignore or redirect on more trivial matters and avoid issues. • Manage medical needs. COVID-19 is scary. No one wants to get the virus, so you might think about avoiding visits to the doctor and other medical needs. However, it is important to weigh your options. Those visits are usually important, and your medical provider will work with you to find your best option. • Telehealth visits. Telehealth should be considered first. It allows a health care provider to see you “face to face” using video technology or, in some cases, over the phone. This makes telehealth valuable for people with limited mobility and those who live in rural areas far away from a medical specialist. Many times medical professionals can use this to perform a basic physical exam, diagnose common medical conditions, manage complex care, and offer treatment plans. • In-person visits. Expect a “new normal” as medical offices and clinics open for patient visits. You will likely be screened by phone before your visit and given directions on what you need to do for your visit. You may be asked to wear a mask, which may be provided at check in. You may have avoid waiting areas as well as other changes. • Call 911 if you have an emergency. You may be worried about going to the emergency department, but there are protocols in place to effectively treat emergent care needs and protect you from the virus. The bottom line is that you should call 911 or go to the emergency department if you would have thought of doing it before COVID-19. • Stay connected with friends and family. We are social beings, so please use your facetime, skype, duo, or whatever video chat app you want. Just be social. It is understandable to talk about any fears and concerns you have, but it is also important to talk about more fun and positive things. • Use community resources when needed. You can still get the support services you need, like healthcare, state and local agencies, and online resources. You can also ask for help from your community or friends if needed. This includes getting food, medicine, and anything else that’s needed. Remember, we are all in this together. 2 UAB Traumatic Brain Injury Model System Information Network 3