Handbook for the Concussed
February 20, 2012 8:48 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for some things to do for a friend who's supposed to avoid thinking for a few days.

A friend of mine got hit by a car and received some contusions to her skull. Her work is primarily mental work, but the doctors have told her that she needs to hold off on it. I'm looking for suggestions of things she can do while she can't think a lot - music she can listen to, things she can look at, etcetera. There should be an emphasis here on things that are fun or nice but minimally complex.
posted by outlandishmarxist to Human Relations (36 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Mainstream Sitcoms?
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 8:51 AM on February 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: A little more interesting than that. Music suggestions are welcomed.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 8:55 AM on February 20, 2012

Jigsaw puzzles?
posted by hermitosis at 8:57 AM on February 20, 2012

Must she stay in bed? I'd say baking, making spaghetti sauce--something that's creative but not exactly taxing.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:59 AM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Potting some spring bulbs in pots (for forcing indoors) or in a bed (if she's able). Minimal brain, maximal payoff.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 9:01 AM on February 20, 2012

Music for Airports by Brian Eno (one track of which is here).
Classic Tex Avery cartoons, though for me the pain of laughter might be too much
Indoor butterfly conservatory, if there's one in your area
ditto for a large Aquarium. They all seem to have large viewing rooms these days where you can just sit and watch the fish.
posted by jquinby at 9:02 AM on February 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Must she stay in bed? Read to her or play books on tape.
If she can get up and out, try walking in the park or on the beach.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 9:03 AM on February 20, 2012

Mainstream audiobooks. The human voice is very difficult to ignore, and the audiobooks will provide topics to think about. Betty White's audiobook for her autobiography won a Grammy!
posted by rhizome at 9:04 AM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Cash in on that Audible.com free download!
posted by FatRabbit at 9:05 AM on February 20, 2012

I know that this sounds like a recommendation for a kid, but I have to say that they're just as much fun as an adult. Squishy, colorful, just all around happy.
posted by sciencegeek at 9:08 AM on February 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Log on to YouTube, choose the first video, but then only watch videos that come up in the related/suggested videos column. Not completely brain-numbing.
posted by TinWhistle at 9:11 AM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Balancing between "minimally complex" and "interesting" is tricky.

Simple card games, the kind you could play with a six year old- Go Fish, War, etc.

Re-watching favorite movies? If it's a story she's familiar with and enjoys, it shouldn't be too mentally taxing but still a pleasant diversion. I'm thinking something like Princess Bride or Silverado. Or classic Monty Python.

buy a stack of magazines- if she wants something deeper than Us Weekly, maybe Architectural Digest or Travel & Leisure, etc. Interesting pictures but not a lot of thinking required.

Modeling clay or oil pastels can be entertaining to mess around with, without being too taxing.
posted by ambrosia at 9:19 AM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sorting/stringing beads
Polishing silver (provided the smell of polish won't overwhelm her)
Coloring in coloring books
Simple, gentle movies/shows aimed at kids: My Neighbor Totoro, Anne of Green Gables, etc.

Music: Chopin nocturnes, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, relaxing harp music;if you can find the children's CD Seal Maiden by Karan Casey, it has a charming story and fantastic Irish music, and has been a hit with every age range I've played it for
posted by corey flood at 9:25 AM on February 20, 2012

Whose Line Is It Anyway? (lots of episodes posted online various places) might be good. Simple card and board games are also a good idea. Computer or video games could be good too -- stuff like Bejeweled or maybe even simple RPGs. Maybe easy crossword puzzles, word searches, or other similar puzzles.

Oh, and mandala/geometric pattern coloring books. Those things are awesome.

Also, does she already have any hobbies that might fit in to this? Knitting, crocheting, embroidery, quilting, scrapbooking, painting Warhammer minis? This probably wouldn't be the best time to pick up one of these things, but if it's already something she's comfortable with, having a simple knitting project in her hands could make inane TV a lot more tolerable.
posted by naturalog at 9:25 AM on February 20, 2012

"fun or nice but minimally complex" puts me in the mindset of American popular music from the 40s and early 50s. Ink Spots, Mills Brothers, Bob Crosby and the Bobcats, Ella, Cab Calloway, etc. ... if she has cable or satellite, perhaps there's a "popular standards" music channel?
posted by jbickers at 9:25 AM on February 20, 2012

Jazz and New Age music zone me out but good. Trips to places where you merely have to look but not interact - museums, the zoo, the aquarium. Take a ride some place that's hard to get to for lunch - the ride itself, which the music I mentioned above and some low-key conversation, is a good way to get out but not tax the noggin too much.
posted by brownrd at 9:29 AM on February 20, 2012

There is some site that just plays cute animal videos - you just hit play once and it runs indefinitely.
posted by desjardins at 9:29 AM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Steven Seagal movies. I mean if you really want mindless pleasures...
posted by Gungho at 9:30 AM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Obvious question: what kind of music does she like? There's an enormous amount of music streaming on the internet, through public radio stations and tiny indie stations. We have a radio museum in town (KMRE) that steams very early pop music. It has a reach of about 8 blocks in town, but gets listeners on other continents.

And you can go to the library and check out piles of CDs. Get music she's never tried listening to, or that she hasn't heard for years: Joan Baez, medieval lute music, Hawaiian slack key guitar (the soundtrack from the Descendants is wonderful). You'll notice my selections avoid the loud, headbanging music, but if she loves it, why not?

If she needs to keep her fingers busy while listening to music, get her a needlework or latch hook kit meant for kids. A friend got one for me when I couldn't do much, and it was very relaxing, plus I ended up with a small square rug with Eeyore on it.
posted by kestralwing at 9:34 AM on February 20, 2012

I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer (ok, and Angel) from start to finish for some brain relief. The series is entertaining enough to engage *some* brain cells, whips by really fairly fast, and yea, is still a little mindless.

Twin Peaks or Northern Exposure are also good for engaged but effortless watching.
posted by countrymod at 9:37 AM on February 20, 2012

I don't know if it'll give her a headache, but if you have a craft store nearby you can probably find her a pretty simple (and by definition pretty goofy, probably) Latch-Hook rug kit. They are hypnotically soothing to work on, require just enough concentration to not be able to think much about something else, and keep the hands busy.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:39 AM on February 20, 2012

I've never had a concussion, but I've found that when I'm upset, it helps to listen to Bach's Brandenberg Concertos - it's comforting to hear there's some order in the universe.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 9:39 AM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

A train ride (if she doesn't normally commute by train). Just get on and look out the window together, then ride it back. another alternative would be a car ride. This is dependant on her nausea however.
posted by saucysault at 9:49 AM on February 20, 2012

I have a friend who was once in a similar situation, right down to the cognitively taxing work. Especially at first, she was allowed to:

(a) watch light, not narratively challenging television, or shows or movies she's already seen/new genre shows in a genre she's familiar with, where you basically know how things go down. (So...Twin Peaks is right the fuck out, unless she's seen it already.)

(b) play easy, known-since-childhood games that didn't require a lot of strategy. Simple card games and the like.

(c) simple crafts and tasks that she knew before she became ill, and not take on extremely challenging variants or projects. If her fine motor is okay, one strand stringing beautiful beads is easy and feels...productive. Because you made something.

(d) listen to music she already knew pretty well, or where the genre is one that she was at least familiar with. Again, genre music within the genre that isn't new and exciting.

(e) checking out familiar, lower-key places around town, depending on her level of physical capacity/cognitive filter for external stimuli right now.

(f) She was banned from reading, because her reading tastes were too taxing. You have to be careful with that one, as well as audiobooks/podcasts.

It's boring. It really, really is. Some of the suggestions that people have above are stimulating and interesting because they are new--because they are challenging the brain to do new things. There will come a point where she will reintegrate more and more of that (at least, my friend was able to), and let's hope that time is sooner rather than later. (Because of the specifics of my friend's disorder, it took longer than I hope is true for your friend.) If she can really rest now, in the early stages, she may get to the "sooner" part faster. She has bruised her brain, and just like breaking a femur, you don't beat the healing process by running or skipping on it right away.

When I was in similar--but not the same--straits due to medication adjustments for epilepsy, I took short walks to my favorite coffee shop, took my dog to the dog park more and just watched her smell things, and lay on the couch watching every episode of "How I Met Your Mother," "Law and Order: WHATEVER," "CSI: WHATEVER," and Buffy (which I'd already seen). And I slept.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 10:07 AM on February 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

My son (7) has a bad concussion this fall and spent 2 weeks on progressive cognitive rest.
At first he was not allowed to draw, paint, color, play with toys, knit, watch TV, etc. So you may want to touch base with her doctor for a specific list of do's and don'ts.
He was allowed to listen to quiet music and books on tape.

As he started to get better, he was allowed to do quiet activities like draw or knit for 15 minutes and then rest for 45.

I found this link particularly helpful:

Some things that we did: books on tape, knitting a scarf, beaded bracelets, quiet music, podcasts, card games, board games that don't require too much thinking.
posted by LittleMy at 10:14 AM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Web! Comics!

Achewood, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, xkcd, something positive, quesitonable content, sinfest

Each of these appeal to mental-type people, but don't really require much thinking. And they have a HUGE body of work to go through
posted by Jon_Evil at 11:17 AM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Play fetch with a dog. My dog is very focused on getting me focused on throwing a ball until eternity. This can be done inside too, with caution.
posted by spec80 at 11:47 AM on February 20, 2012

Nature documentaries!
posted by yarly at 12:11 PM on February 20, 2012

Assuming her hands weren't injured:

Origami, specifically a tower box, it's simple and highly repetitive (very little thinking required). But it passes the time and makes you feel, mildly, productive. Bonus, a simple alteration and you're making nifty little origami gift boxes.

Practice prestidigitation.
posted by zinon at 12:19 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Colouring mandalas can be fun
posted by costanza at 2:50 PM on February 20, 2012

ANGRY BIRDS!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by devymetal at 3:05 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Jane McGonigal gamified concussion recovery. This either makes people cheer or twitch.
posted by Addlepated at 8:21 PM on February 20, 2012

Things she has already done, many many times. So movies and tv she already has. Childrens cartoons she already has.

Napping in the sunshine, watching clouds, blowing bubbles, people-watching. Walking slowly, kneading playdough. Sanding. Is there anything she could sand? That's really repetitive, and non-thinky, but feels like doing something useful.
posted by Elysum at 8:58 PM on February 20, 2012

posted by macinchik at 11:23 PM on February 20, 2012

Some random ideas:

- If she has a garden sitting quietly outside and slowly pulling weeds
- Popping a sheet of bubble wrap
- Rocking back and forth in a rocking chair
- Floating in a pool/bath
- Slow walks in a park
posted by latch24 at 12:11 AM on February 21, 2012

The Library probably has lots of music, audiobooks and videos, and may have puzzles. It can be fun to re-watch Masterpiece Theater series, like Jewel in the Crown, and/or Mystery - I'd love an excuse to go back and watch Inspector Morse.

Music - it depends on taste, but a variety of classical standards, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, etc., and well-loved music - Beatles, Phil Collins, Abba, whatever. I suspect familiar music is less cognitively challenging. Librarians are great for helping with a request like this.

Needlepoint cross-stitch on a pre-worked canvas is perfect for the hands if the music isn't enough. I've got a needlepoint canvas that needs work - just sayin. Really, your friend could complete a chair seat, easily. Crocheting granny squares is pretty mellow, and she could end up with a nice afghan.
posted by theora55 at 6:28 PM on February 21, 2012

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