Hydrocephalus: Do you ever exercise your brain?

Hydrocephalus: Do you ever exercise your brain?

The definition of Traumatic Brain Injury is:

“Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an insult to the brain, not of a degenerative or congenital nature, but caused by an external physical force that may produce a diminished or altered state of consciousness, which results in an impairment of cognitive abilities or physical functioning.”

Bluntly put, there is no nice way (I’d bet in the brain’s view), to enter the brain and implant a shunt or do an ETV, other than by force.  Having Hydrocephalus and going through brain surgery to treat it, would place you in the same category as any other TBI survivor.

For myself, the condition and subsequent surgeries, have left me with cognitive and short-term memory loss.  There used to be a time when I felt sorry for myself and would lick my wounds every time an argument would ensue (with whomever) because I’d forgotten or neglected something/someone.  I’ve driven myself to the brink of insanity looking for house keys which I seemed to misplace no matter how many times we had new ones cut.  This is just one example of when my brain has been clouded with fog that refused to lift.

Then, not sure exactly when or why but, I came to the point where I just said: “Stuff this!”  

I have had enough of having to defend myself to my family (especially), friends, colleagues or just about anyone.  I’ve had BRAIN surgery for Pete’s sake!  Why would there even be a need to justify me to anyone?  Explaining to enlighten someone who is unaware of the situation maybe, but NOT justify.

I decided there’s only one thing to do….exercise.  My body needs it desperately but that’s not the kind of exercise I’m referring to (maybe I’ll pluck up the energy to do that someday).  I’m talking about training my brain.  Thankfully in this day and age, there’s an App for just about anything.  I make sure above all else, I have at least one (maybe three, if not more) Apps to keep my brain stimulated.  However, this does not come without some frustration when I can’t figure something out.  It’s like a stubborn limb that just requires you to keep working at it to stay functioning.  No one else is going to do it for me and no one else can fix it either.

I reckon it’s one of the best things anyone with brain injury can do for themselves.  If you’re anything like me, I get bored fairly easily once I’ve mastered something.  (Didn’t actually think I would use that word in the same sentence as, or in reference to my brain but hey, I never said it was impossible).

Find new Apps, rotate them if need be, just do something.  Don’t let it get the better of you either because that won’t get you anywhere anyway.  In a previous post, I made an example of how I challenge myself by parking my car at different spots or train stations in the morning.  By the end of the day, I need to remember where I’ve parked.  Once I’m as good as I’d like to be, I stop or give it a break for a few months and then I give it another go to see how well I’m doing.

It’s something that requires daily commitment, just a few minutes a day.  Best of all, you can do it just about anywhere.  My phone is constantly in my hand except for at home.  Majority of my time is spent outside of the home anyway so it’s great while I’m taking the train to or from work, walking to the office (unless the weathers good, then I’d much rather enjoy the view) or even going to the toilet.  (Don’t judge, I’m sure many Facebook posts happen on the throne?).  The point is, a few minutes is literally all you need.

Some of the Apps I’ve used (And no, I’m not getting paid for this):

  • Wordchums (Playing against an opponent and probably the equivalent of Scrabble)
  • Wordscapes (Like a crossword puzzle where you have to make words with a select few letters)
  • Unblock me (This one frustrates me to no end but I’m not beaten yet)
  • Wordsearch (A childhood favourite of mine)
  • Puzzledom (An App I saw my 7-year old playing.  She beats me hands down but I’m getting better)

There are literally thousands you could choose from, depending on what you like.  Some might make you feel like a toddler but if I had to be honest, that’s probably what I feel like when it comes to learning.  But, it doesn’t mean I am dumb, it just means it will take a little longer for me to learn what I need to.  The best I can do is give it my best shot.

If it causes you too much frustration, then find something else.  It’s meant to be challenging but more importantly fun.

Get the squeaky wheels of your brain churning again.  It might not help altogether but it’s a step in the right direction.

Do you have a favourite App which you find useful?  What other tricks do you have to keep the cogs of your brain moving?


  • Cyndi

    March 10, 2022 at 4:01 pm Reply

    I play the piano to exercise my brain

    • Skyewaters

      March 12, 2022 at 1:16 am Reply

      I can see a few benefits to doing that. Thanks for sharing💙

  • Marianne

    January 4, 2021 at 3:44 am Reply

    Hi Skye thank you for reposting this. I was being criticized for “playing” to much and I was starting to feel guilty and do it less even though I felt I was on the right track. I have started doing jigsaw puzzles, playing Jenna table top activities while watching t.v. playing numbers merge, phase 10 and word wars on my phone. I also keep a word search book, a crossword book and a sudoku book at home for when I want off the phone but need a break from my table top activities. I’m not at the point of being able to find my car in its usual parking places yet but I’ve started having 3 different places in my house for my glasses and keys and I seem to be doing well with that. Reading this article has helped me feel so much better about myself, know that I’m on the right track and helped me put others in perspective. Thank you!

    • Skyewaters

      January 4, 2021 at 10:44 am Reply

      I’d say you’re in the right track for sure! It takes time and no one knows just how long. We’re all different but if this works for you, I’d be first to encourage you to keep at it. As for the criticism, I’ve had my fair share of that. It doesn’t mean I stop because the value is visible to me.

      Best of luck💙

  • Duncan

    November 5, 2017 at 1:57 pm Reply

    Hi Skye,
    Some of my favorite apps are the Monster Buster Games there are a few and I know from my friends
    They also enjoy them. 4 or 5 different versions of it. You need more than 1 because it can get hard, and it’s nice to switch to a different version. I also like 8 Ball Pool challenging and you can play against friends in Real Time. Almost everyone loves Pool. Yes I agree with the statement you made about Brain Surgery is like recovering from a TBI. My hydro was from a TBI I slipped on ice and hit my head causing the hydro. Many surgeries and lots of recovery time,but I am finally starting to regain my senses. Just keeping my fingers crossed that nothing goes wrong with the Shunt and tubing to keep me out or O.R.if that happens it all starts over again for the ???Time.

    • Skyewaters

      November 5, 2017 at 5:43 pm Reply

      Hi Duncan. I am certainly one of those people who loves pool. It’s great that you have something to keep your brain active. Thanks for sharing.
      Ps. Praying you don’t have to go through any of that again.???

      • Duncan

        November 5, 2017 at 8:36 pm Reply

        Thanks you too.

  • Anonymous

    November 5, 2017 at 11:54 am Reply

    Hydrocephalus does cause brain injury or I would not have epilepsy or poor memory.

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