My 10 days in the ‘concussion cave’

    Theo and Hallie Balcomb. (Photo by Lynn Davey)

    Theo and Hallie Balcomb. (Photo by Lynn Davey)

    A blow to the head left NPR producer Theo Balcomb with a minor traumatic brain injury and a deep need to sleep and heal. Her sister took her home and turned her bed into a sensory deprivation tank.

    I fell getting out of bed. I wish I could say the story wasn’t so silly. I’d rather weave a tale about ice climbing and Everest. But no, instead, I was just trying to get out bed. Hit my head twice on the wood floor. The prescription from my doctor was one I’d never heard before: 10 days of no cognitive stimulation—no screens, no reading, no listening.

    Cognitive stimulation is just about all I have going for me. I’m a news producer who lives alone. Fortunately, my younger sister kidnapped me from my apartment in the middle of Washington D.C., where I live. Hallie lives in a town where the most disruption you’ll encounter is the sound of a distant train whistle.

    She constructed a “concussion cave” to satisfy my need for darkness and endured my sleeping, crying, and confusion as I healed. Listen as she helps me navigate how to survive at home without cognitive stimuli.

    To listen to our interview with concussion expert Sarah Allen about the latest research on concussion recovery times, click here

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