Mental fatigue is a common problem after a traumatic brain injury. It is one of the more disabling problems in that it can greatly affect the ability to return to work, perform daily activities, or participate in social functions. Mental fatigue can also predispose a person to irritability, concentration problems, emotional instability, and sensitivity to stress.
Studies have found that post-injury fatigue can occur independent of depression, headache, chronic pain, or sleep disturbance-other common symptoms that occur after a brain injury. Although there are some medications that have shown to improve mental fatigue after a brain injury, they may not be appropriate for all patients.
A recent study found that a mindfulness-based stress reduction education program was able to help people who suffered from fatigue, not by reducing the fatigue itself, but by learning how to cope and live around it. For example, mindfulness education can show the patient how to handle stress more effectively, therefore using fewer mental resources, and maintaining energy levels instead of becoming fatigued. Mindfulness can be a useful alternative or adjunctive therapy to medication.
Johannsson B, Bjuhr H, & Ronnback L. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) improves long-term mental fatigue after stroke or traumatic brain injury. Brain Injury. (August 2012).