Taking the Holistic Approach to Health and Wellness for your Brain Injured Child
There are nearly as many different schools of thought on parenting as there are parents. They may not agree on which brand of bottles is best or how to stop a biter, but overwhelmingly, parents share the same hope for their children. If asked, an expecting couple or a single parent trying to help his youngest through college will likely answer, “I just want them to be happy and healthy.” To some extent, the conditions affecting a kid’s health and happiness can be controlled by those who love them most. But what do you do when the threat to your simple yet most important wish for your child is beyond your power? You focus on all that you can do.
Brain injuries can be painful for infants and children and terrifying to their parents. After meeting with a physician, the responsibility of care is transferred home. This can feel daunting to someone who does not have experience treating this type of injury, which involves nurturing the mental, chemical, physical and emotional health of a child.
A holistic approach treats the whole being. This is especially important when healing the command center of all the body’s functions. Realizing that you have access to resources, room to be creative in your approach, and the incredible healing ability of kids on your side, you can feel more confident and capable in nursing your child back towards their pre-injured selves.
Find Your Resources
Brain injuries have a way of making those affected by them feel isolated. Sharing your experiences with other families navigating the victories and setbacks that accompany brain trauma can lessen the emotional burden of caregiving. Consulting experts can provide the tools you need to see improvements in your child’s cognitive functioning. Involve others in setting clear intentions for you and your child:
Step 1: Get Help
- The Family Hope Center specializes in physiological health. They understand that mental, physical and social functioning are interdependent and therefore treat all aspects of your child’s wellbeing. Educaring® focuses on infant health and brain development.
Step 2: Talk to Other Families
- Though you might usually look to your mother or best friend for support, no one will understand your feelings as well as another family in a similar situation.
Step 3: Research Brain Injuries
- Educating yourself about your child’s condition using reputable sources is one of the most important things you can do for them. No one expects you to be an expert on brain health, but you are the premier expert on your child.
Step 4: Build a Customized Plan
- A child’s brain injury is a small part of who they are at the moment, and just like them, their condition is unique. A treatment that achieves positive results for another child might not be what is most effective for yours.
Step 5: Reevaluate, Revise and Renew Your Plan
- Though it is important to give all aspects of your holistic approach time to work, evaluating your child’s progress is essential. The WeeFim® is the most extensive database designed to measure cognitive development specifically in children; it can help you make adjustments.
Adopt a Holistic Approach
Acute injuries like concussions are difficult to treat. Families are often told to be patient,and are advised to monitor changes and prescribed pain medications that can cause adverse reactions. Nicolette Richer’s daughter experienced a brain injury in a fall. She was still in immense pain a month after her trauma; her desperate mother, frustrated by multiple doctors’ advice to wait and see, decided to treat her child using alternative methods. In one day, an acupuncturist, chiropractor, optometrist and physiotherapist treated her daughter to positive but limited results. She spent some time in a sensory deprivation tank full of magnesium.
They went home and Richer drew from her knowledge of alternative therapies to continue to ease her daughter’s pain. Inspired by Temple Grandin, she applied compression therapy and fed her the most nutritient-rich meals she could conceive. The 9 year-old--who had awoken that morning with a 15 on a pain scale of 1 to 10--woke up the next morning at a 0. Children and their injuries react differently to traditional medicine and alternative methods, but by taking a holistic approach, Richer effectively eradicated her daughter’s pain.
Start a Family Tradition of Nutrition
Seizing the opportunity to benefit from a dramatic life event can have lasting, positive effects on a family. The rapid acceleration of technology has radically changed the way families operate, right down to what is served on the dining room table. The time, care, and thought that used to go into feeding a household is now often reduced to the wait between ordering and receiving bags of food through a window. Imagine what your grandparents ate as children. All they had available were locally sourced meats, fruits, and vegetables free of the preservatives that are difficult for the body to process.
What is good for the body is good for the brain. Planning “brain meals” might take some time getting used to but can become the norm for your family. Children with brain trauma benefit from magnesium and Omega-3 packed ingredients such as dark leafy vegetables, avocados, salmon, nuts, and beans. Foods that stimulate the body’s growth of healthy bacteria and boost its immune system allow the brain to focus on healing itself and not combating other health threats. You and your child would both benefit by incorporating probiotic yogurt, pickled vegetables, and tempeh into your brain meals.
Observe and Play
The more predictable an environment is, the easier it is for children to adapt and learn. While playing in a structured space, take some time to observe your child’s progress. This allows them some independence that they may have been missing while at the same time exercising their brain. When you are playing or interacting with them, be present. It can be difficult to turn loose your active kid after experiencing a brain injury, but it’s a time to celebrate the strides you both have made.