Stress, inability to focus, fatigue, seizures… These are only a few of the many occurrences for TBI victims after their incident, but do you know about Muscle Atrophy?
This is yet another side effect that sometimes arises following a traumatic brain injury, and it can be particularly difficult to help/overcome.
In this article, you will learn what muscle atrophy is and solutions to resolve the condition. One of them may surprise you.
What Is Muscle Atrophy?
Muscle Atrophy, in the simplest sense, is when muscles waste away. This can be a result of many things – perhaps the most popular is the lack of physical activity. With that said, TBI is a condition that prevents many survivors from physical activity and limits their mobility, this leads to atrophy. These atrophied muscles will appear smaller than usual, and will also feel much weaker, and may require stimulation to bring it out of dormancy.
When you have a traumatic brain injury, there is a possibility you might experience muscle atrophy, depending on your circumstances.
Perhaps you require a wheelchair, or you are regaining your strength to exercise. Your muscles could be dormant and thus atrophied.
It can take a very long time for these muscles to wake up and become active again, and there are different solutions you can implement to try and reawaken them.
Solutions For Muscle Atrophy
Many people who experience muscle atrophy have found several methods to be useful in waking them up again. These include acupuncture, massage, stretching, and exercise.
Acupuncture is a popular traditional Chinese alternative medicine practice. Fine needles insert into specific points in the skin. The locations of these points are along the “lines of energy” (meridians). Acupuncture is used to treat many different mental and physical conditions. While it is mostly for the benefit of pain relief, people have found it to help in many other ways.
Concerning muscle atrophy, there is a conclusion by the researchers at the Fujian Provincial Research Institution of Traditional Chinese Medicine that performing acupuncture reduces muscle cell apoptosis (death of cells).
Simultaneously, it also promotes the proliferation and differentiation of muscle satellite cells. In other words, it’s extremely positive for muscle atrophy.
Massaging is the manipulation of soft tissues in the body through the use of a professional’s hands, elbows, fingers, knees, feet, or a device. The typical benefits of massage include:
- Reduced muscle tension
- Improved circulation
- Increased joint mobility and flexibility
- Improved recovery of soft tissue injuries
These benefits help contribute towards optimal muscle growth and delayed atrophy.
Not only that, massages feel great, and they also help to relax your mind, promoting the reduction of stress hormones. You can’t go wrong with a great massage.
When you stretch, you deliberately flex or stretch a specific muscle or tendon. This improves the muscle’s elasticity – one can feel more flexible with improved mobility, muscle control, and range of motion.
The benefits of stretching are vast, but the most popular ones include:
- Decreased muscle stiffness
- Reduced risk of injury
- Improved posture
- Reduced muscular tension
- Enhanced muscular relaxation
- Improved mechanical efficiency
Overall, you achieve better functional performance with consistent stretching incorporated daily. For muscle atrophy, if you stretch before and after each workout, your range of motion greatly increases and thus promotes optimal muscle recovery.
One of the more recent and popularized methods for helping muscle atrophy is something called the “Tens Machine.” This is something that has proven to encourage the muscles out of atrophy.
It’s a relatively inexpensive machine at around $30 USD, but the benefits from it are incredible. To use it is simple – you put one electric sticker on one end of a muscle and another on the adjacent side. Then, it sends electric pulses into the muscle, essentially shocking it in a painless way.
This forces the muscle to contract, relax, and, therefore, force the muscle to activate. Even though it is involuntary, the muscle activates and establishes the mind-body connection.
Furthermore, because the muscle contracts and awakens out of atrophy, the muscle is building up in strength and muscle.
If you have recently suffered a traumatic brain injury and are experiencing ongoing muscle atrophy, you could start with these methods – especially the Tens Machine – to help reawaken and regenerate your muscle mass.