Gray Matters: The Freak Show

2015-0206 Kettlebell

That kettlebell you’re thrusting in the air may be improving your long-term memory. And the boot camp that just destroyed you may be making you a sharper conversationalist. If it’s a better brain you’re after, then lace up your sneakers. It turns out exercise may be our best defense against everything from mood disorders to addiction. Plus, research indicates the more we put into exercise, the more exercise benefits our brain..


Click here to read another Beyond Adversity post.

Thanks to April for sharing a video that made me think of this post; Reebok for creating the video; Google for helping me find the video; YouTube for hosting the video; and all the other people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the video and text I used in this post.


    1. Pam, I am not sure which article you are requesting. If it is the post I shared about Steve Harvey, the link is If you are looking for the article written by Special Correspondant James Brown for CBS News, the link is If you are looking for something else, please clarify your request. I will do my best to help.

      1. Thank you for looking! I haven’t had time to catch up on on my reading, but I am sure I will run across it. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

  1. Fatigue Without doubt, fatigue is one of the most limiting after-effects of head injury, because it influences everything that is done. The victim will find that after every activity he will tire much more quickly than he expects, whether he is trying to concentrate, take exercise, or just talk socially. Even activities which are normally relaxing, like watching television, will tire him. Why should this be is not yet known, but it seems likely that the injury has damaged the part of the brain which controls the rhythm of sleeping and waking. This is not surprising, as the first effect of a head injury is coma, a very deep sort of sleep. Someone who is fit and well wakes in the morning feeling fresh. The well person can work right through the day until he starts to feel tired, a word we use to describe the feeling that everything needs much more effort. If a person goes on working when he is tired he gets careless, and the quality of the work deteriorates. At last it becomes unpleasant, there are too many mistakes however hard he tries, and he has to stop. After a good night’s rest he is fresh again and can go back to work. It looks as if he starts the day with a measured amount of energy, he can work until he is exhausted, when this happens he becomes tired and inefficient, and then he can get the energy back by a good night’s sleep. A head-injured person can feel fresh when he wakes, but within a short time, an hour or two or maybe less, the feeling of tiredness comes on and, much more quickly that the well person, his performance deteriorates and he has to stop. When he takes a rest or sleep it does him less good than he expects. Even if he gets a good night’s sleep, he may not feel fresh the next morning. What seems to be happening is that he starts with much less energy, uses it up more quickly, and has difficulty in getting it back by resting. The next day he is still in ‘energy-debt’ so that the symptoms start even sooner. There are other disturbances of the sleeping and waking mechanism. After head injury more time may be spent in the lighter stages of sleep, which are less refreshing. As a result of this the quality of dreaming may change, sometimes with nightmares, and sometimes with very little dreaming at all. If your head injured friend says he is too tired to go out with you, he probably is. It is often very difficult for a person who has had a head injury to understand the needs of his situation. We are all brought up to believe that ‘we can do better if we try harder and the reaction to fatigue is often dogged perseverance and determination to finish the job. This usually results in a downward spiral of deterioration. Families and rehabilitation staff need to act as monitors of the head injured person’s energy use, to make sure he stays within the limits where he will be able to function effectively. The rehabilitation team will organize the treatment times so that periods which are ‘energy-draining’ are alternated with periods of rest, when his batteries can be recharged. Families will monitor the home and leisure activities to make sure that he is not overdoing things. To do this, families need to appreciate that the signs that he is over-tired are not necessarily that he will want to lie down or sit in a chair. Indeed, often the opposite is true. He can become more restless, more distractable, more disorganized, or more talkative. His mood may seem exaggerated, he may be quicker to laugh or to argue and less easy to reason with, or he may withdraw and refuse to discuss anything; yet he may deny that he is tired, even though this is very obvious to you. It will be difficult to persuade him to do the only sensible thing, that is, to take some rest. This is why it is important the care-givers monitor the amount of activity, and are able to direct the head-injured person to rest before he gets to the ‘over-tired’ stage. Often there are very clear signals that your relative or friend has exceeded the energy level and is approaching this overload. You need to watch out for these signals. Some of the most frequent are unusual pallor, drawn and tense look, or a rather glazed expression in his eyes. If you can recognize the early signs of fatigue in your relative or friend, you can help him by directing him to stop or change what he is doing, and to husband his energies. This should be the first priority in managing the problem. The second priority is to protect him from well meaning associates who do not understand the basis of his tiredness. As an example, if you know that he does not have the energy to watch video(which involves concentrating on a screen, remembering the plot, the characters, what they said, and so on) you can dissuade his associates from pressuring him to join them. The third priority of fatigue management is that of communication. You need to keep the rehabilitation team informed of any unusually tiring activity that your relative or friend has taken up, or anything different that he has done which has made him more tired than normal, or importantly, has affected his ability to cope with rehabilitation. Unfortunately, even when the early obvious fatigue effects are past the head-injured person will still need to manage his energy level carefully. He will need to plan to have extra rest periods if he has an unusual or demanding activity coming up. He will also need to be aware that it .

    1. John, I thought your statment about fatigue was interesting. I have always wondered why doing something as simple as picking up the newspaper from the outside is so exhausting. The difficulty is that family and friends do not appreciate how exhausting that simple task can be to a brain injury survivor. Although I try to fight the exhaustion on occassion, the exhaustion always wins. I learned that it is better to take naps as needed than to fight the urge to stay awake. My close friends and family understand.

      1. This information is directly from a paperback that is in my room. Have not been able to locate it. It is called…”head injury”…the facts. It is quite apparent is was written by a doctor who knew what he was talking about. I picked up this book before I even went to the Rusk years ago. Was there from 1992 to end of 94. So this information was already out. I wonder why no one I have met knows anything about it. Even I, at the time, being head injury to my extreme, everything I read I was not able to retain. While in the Rusk I had the opportunity to return back home to the Italian countryside where I was born and lived until 13. My whole family there…my mother had taken me and my wife there in 83. When my wife had been there with me I had not remembered her,nor anyone else…but now returning while still working on my cognitive setting, in my cognitive remediation classes it would be a tremendous challenge confronting my long term memory loss, my short term memory loss, my focusing what is said, my memory dejavu, disorientation in time and date, my impaired insight and judgement,my distractibilityand my emotional gaiting…(this symptom places on my chart when someone said something I found disturbing and when I tried to reply I was too slow in doing it in time)…I had not yet maximize this full understanding but that would have to do. My fatigue was going to be there. Taking all that into consideration I did the best I could. Took over 1000 pictures. Had to. Rebuilt my life in Italy through those pictures. There simply was no other way. This fatigue article was not!!!!! taught me in the Rusk. WAS made aware of the notes that I would need to take to offset my injuries…but where do you write those notes. How do you review them, when, do you review them…These are things that were not taught at the time. I thus developed through assistance from a friend who had no clue of head injury but thought the program he had passed on to me would be appropriate. With all the problems had to deal with my note taking was extensive but simple on an index card. Copied in a sheet at where I was staying at night…and finally transferred into a computer program when I came back home. At the time,at 50% memory retention span, everything was work. The fatigue article I will publish over and over again. Don’t forget that this is a support group and many are going to get on who are not head injured who may not really care if they see it how important it is. Others will be head injured, who may also not understand how important it is. Then you will get the people who do not like repetition not being aware of the many others who may need what is repetition to them. Anyway here is some more of the article that I copied years ago…

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