How Crossfit can Help People with a Traumatic Brain Injury?

I got this email from Mike.

It is amazing.

It is so motivating and a big reason on why I am a huge fan of using exercise to overcome injuries.

Have a read:

Thanks Rick for your loyal online support.

I continually find your posts very practical and useful with my ongoing quest for balancing my life and injuries both physically and mentally.  I’ve learned that what I do physically directly effects my mental ability to function.

My wife & I were run over by a truck in 2002 while waiting to turn left at an intersection.

Our car was destroyed instantly and my wife & I are grateful to be alive. Unfortunately, both my wife and I acquired mild traumatic brain injuries.

Personally, I’ve had several years of mental rehab for depression and anxiety and physical rehab for head to toe soft tissue damage and some nerve damage to cope with this new life of challenges.  At one point I had 44 doctors. I was given medication to help with pain, anxiety, seizures, and sleep.  I was told that despite the risks of side-effects, I was to remain on these meds for the rest of my life so that I could function as normal a life as possible and that the short term benefits was greater than the long term costs. The doctors and the medications all served a valuable purpose for a time.

In May of 2008, I was introduced to a high-intensity workout called CrossFit.

During the first 2-3 months I would black out about 4-5 times per class.

The only reason I kept going was that about 2 hours after each class I felt as though I could think a little bit clearer.

This gave me hope!

The workouts often lasted between 6 & 30 minutes.

With regards to the physical terms of my recovery, I’m still learning technical aspects – so please correct me if I’m wrong.  I think the short bursts of intensity after a warm-up pushes me into an anaerobic workout were most of the oxygen is deprived in my muscles. This demands more and a very exhaustive workout in a shorter period of time.  Doctors told me that my adrenalin is always going because of the brain injury, so the CrossFit workouts help spend the adrenalin in a healthy way.  The workouts are modified to accommodate areas that need to be strengthened.

I was not in the greatest shape when I started (about 205#’s) but I saw this as a possible chance to become free of medication.

With doctor supervision, I’ve been clean off all my meds since August 2008!

I now have regular bi-weekly visits with one doctor that is overseeing this treatment.

I attend CrossFit 6x’s per week.

My current weight is around 176#’s.

If I have more than 2 days without CrossFit the anger and depression hits me like a train.

This road I’m on is not an easy one.

I’ve learned that many would rather quit the hard work of proper nutrition and exercise.

The benefit of exercise is huge!

The lifestyle is ongoing. I still need sleeps most days for up to 2hrs in the middle of the day. The fight with depression is ongoing – this is offset by what I eat and the intensity and frequency of exercise.

My life with pain is ongoing. But now my body is in a constant state of rejuvenation and I’m becoming stronger!

A couple physical achievements include a personal best dead lift of 403#’s and 36 pull ups in a row with full range of motion without resting!

Thanks again for your posts Rick. Your a valuable resource on my team that contributes to a balanced lifestyle.

If I could encourage your readers it would be to make them aware that in the early years of rehab I did not trust anyone.  I was skeptical of the relationship between physical and mental wellness. Please don’t give up!  I had to experience the benefit before any workouts meant anything to me.  Now I’m drug free and have just one doctor!  The biggest challenge mentally is my constant comparison to how I once was. This leads to depression. Making the most of each moment and my new life with exercise and family support is what moves me forward. Exercise produces life! Thanks again for your expertise. I hope this helps deal with some of the concussive clients.  Never give up!

Kind regards,

Mike Shilton

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