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Should you be Avoiding Screen Time Following a Head Injury?

Once an individual sustains a head injury, one of the first questions that they often think about is whether screen time should be avoided. Siding with caution, many health care providers will advise against it. We are just beginning to understand the importance, if any, of reducing screen time following a head injury. We are also working towards understanding how this may differ depending on the type of injury. Continue with us to learn more. However, before we get too far let’s define “screen time”. Screen time is an all-encompassing term for activities that are done in front of a screen such as (but not exclusive to):

  • Working on a computer

  • Watching tv

  • Playing video games

  • Scrolling through social media on your phone

A recent study found that those who limited their screen time for 48 hours right after they suffered a concussion, had significantly shorter duration of symptoms compared to those who didn’t. These findings are clinical evidence suggesting that restricting screen time within the acute period after sustaining a concussion can lessen the length of symptoms. Shortening symptoms such as:

  • Headaches

  • Ringing in the ears

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Blurry Vision

If you knew of strategies that could reduce your recovery time, wouldn't you consider trying them?

We believe there is a collective “YES” to this answer. However, individuals most often do not realize that they have sustained a brain injury, and continue to live their everyday life, potentially causing a longer recovery for themselves. Even if you do or do not know if you have a diagnosed head injury, we have all come to learn through the COVID-19 pandemic that our excessive screen time may be detrimental to our well-being. And there are ways to reduce screen time. Continue reading for 8 of the top strategies.

8 Strategies to Reduce Your Screen Time

Following a few of these simple steps could help improve your health and possibly reduce TBI symptoms.

  1. Track – Using the screen time daily and weekly usage tracking features that are available on most electronic devices can help you measure the amount of time you spend on your devices.

  2. Avoid Screen Fatigue – Limiting the amount of time you spend on video calls can help you to avoid screen fatigue. You can do this by setting time limits within the technology itself.

    1. Check out this article that can instruct you on how to set screen time limits.

  3. Leveraging Technology –You can turn off notifications to social media platforms to help you refrain from logging in as often.

    1. Check out this article that can help you learn how to turn off notifications.

4. Regular Breaks - Set yourself breaks or timers within the day that can remind you to step away from the screen.

  1. Following the 20-20-20 rule is a good way to adhere to this strategy. The 20-20-20 rule states that every 20 minutes you should look at something 20 feet away from your screen for a full 20 seconds. This could be looking out the window or looking at your dog, either one providing a break from looking at your screen.

5. Sit Less – Get up and get moving. Standing or walking around promotes health, so try to sit less.

  1. Even stretching or going for a quick walk on your recommended breaks can help to promote health.

6. Paying attention to your Posture – An upright posture helps to support head and reduces fatigue and aches. Keeping in mind the importance of maintaining a correct posture, could help reduce some of the strains of screen time.

7. Avoid eating in front of a screen – Having a separate mealtime rather than always enjoying your food in front of a screen, can help you to take a much-needed break away.

8. Avoid having screens in the bedroom – Screens emit a light that can interrupt your quality of sleep. Avoiding them right before bed is a good way to improve sleep and therefor health.

Individual to Individual

Now what may work for you in limiting your screen time may not work for someone else. An individual’s job and lifestyle may influence their screen habits more than another’s. Individual’s head injuries are also completely unique from one another, altering the methods that may provide someone relief. Hear from Diamone Ricketts (pictured below in a picture she provided), a brain injury survivor on her experience with monitoring her screen time habits following her injury.

“I am an active brain injury individual who currently suffers from sleep deprivation as an active side effect. I've read books and used Google as a search engine to know the factors about what is good for my body and what is bad. I used my own hypothesis to see which method will allow my brain to grow smarter with screen time.” – Diamone

As you can see Diamone has taken initiative on ways, she can elevate herself through technology, without impacting her brain injury symptoms. She emphasized the importance of that being knowledgeable on your body and ways to care for it effectively, is one of the best ways to approach your recovery.

“There's no law against screen time. Just limit your time doing so. Cognitive activities such as puzzles, word cross board games, card games and physical exercise, can also help enable educational growth in problem solving and enhance skill development.” – Diamone

Diamone also clearly understands that technology and screen time can be used towards improving cognitive deficits as well. It is all about finding balance.

What happens when you don’t monitor and take active control of your screen time? You will have to stay tuned for part 2 to this blog to find out!

In the meantime, be sure to follow Power of Patients on social media, so you won’t miss the release of the follow up blog!

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