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Alternative Treatments for Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries may happen when a person's body gets seriously jarred or swung around. Brain injuries may happen when a person hits his or her head, fell, or was thrown out of a car. Signs of TBI include a loss of coordination, slurred or confused speech, changes in alertness, and changes in the ability to follow directions. Doctors may run imaging tests or monitor brain activity with an intracranial pressure probe. Once the diagnosis is made, it's time to consider the best course of treatment, and sometimes this means taking a step or two beyond medication.


Alternative treatments, including aromatherapy, usually function best when used as supplements to a medical treatment plan and not as a replacement. In many placebo-controlled studies, essential oils reduced some of the unpleasant symptoms of TBI, such as nausea and anxiety. Certain oils, especially those with sesquiterpenes (a natural compound) are shown to increase the amount of oxygen in the brain. The increased oxygen levels lead to improved memory, confidence, and optimism, among other benefits.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is performed with the intent of providing clean oxygen to the brain for 60 to 90 minutes at a time inside a pressurized tube. This form of therapy is routinely used to treat decompression sickness and serious infections. This intake of pure oxygen reduces the amount of inflammation in damaged areas of the brain. Unfortunately, most insurance companies aren't ready to accept hyperbaric oxygen therapy as an effective treatment for traumatic brain injury, so patients have to determine whether to pay for the treatment themselves.


This alternative treatment method improves recovery from TBI with specific benefits in providing relief from limb paralysis. The best results are reached when acupuncture is provided along with drug therapy. Researchers found that acupuncture leads to improved limb function, the ability to perform daily tasks, and a decreased amount of brain lesions. Before an acupuncture visit, it's best to eat a snack or light meal. During the appointment, acupuncturists may ask a lot of questions, do a short inspection of the tongue and abdomen, and suggest treatment alternative options beyond acupuncture, such as specialized massage therapy. It takes more than one treatment for acupuncture to be successful, so patients should plan more than one visit.

Gentle Forms of Physical Activity

Gentle physical therapy, such as aquatic therapy and Tai Chi Chuan, show significant improvement in patients. The benefits of these treatment methods include decreased confusion, tension, and sadness with increases in energy levels and happiness. Physical activities that require a consistent, gentle amount of resistance reduce the occurrence of muscle spasms, improve the ability to walk, increase circulation, and improve balance. Fortunately, it isn't necessary to know how to swim to participate in aquatic therapy.

Craniosacral Therapy

Craniosacral therapy, sometimes called cranial sacral therapy, relieves compression along the bones of the head and spinal column. This therapy may be provided by chiropractors, physical therapists, or massage therapists. Gentle pressure is applied to the head, neck, and back as the skull and spine are manipulated. The idea behind this therapy is that the flow of cerebrospinal fluid is encouraged to return to normal, so the body is better able to heal.


One vital component of recovery from a traumatic brain injury is mindfulness or mindful focusing. Mindfulness training helps patients focus on their present situation, so they are better able to pick up on clues in their environment and respond appropriately. Paying attention to the present moment, to how the body feels, and current thoughts allows patients to strengthen the mind-body connection and avoid stressful or fearful thoughts. Practitioners in this field can offer many Brain injury resources for improving overall well-being during healing.

There are many options when it comes to alternative methods of treatment for TBI. Because every individual's experience is unique, it's helpful for family members and health care providers to look into the various methods to create a treatment plan that specifically targets the individual's needs.

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