What are the effects of a traumatic brain injury?
Any head injury can cause disruption of brain functions and can result in physical, cognitive, and psychosocial/emotional/interpersonaI impairment. Strokes often cause physical deficits such as hemiplegia (weakness or even paralysis on the side of the body opposite the side of the brain effected by the stroke), dysarthria, (problems with speech production due to deficits in speech apparatus coordination), ataxia (motor coordination problems), and apraxia (difficulty with purposeful, voluntary muscle movements in the absence of paralysis or paresis), decreased arousal (hypoarousal), changes in mood (especially depression) and emotional control, impulsivity, memory deficits, concentration problems, visual inattention (neglect) of the affected side, language deficits causing communication problems (aphasia) when the stroke is on the left side of the brain, and visuoperceptual problems when the stroke is on the right side of the brain.
Anoxia can cause significant impairment of learning, memory, judgment, mental flexibility, and can even result in behavioral changes and regressed behaviors when the injury is severe. Tumors lead to specific deficits; any function can be impaired, depending on the location of the tumor in the brain.
TBI differs from other types of head injuries in that while the brain damage from tumors, strokes, anoxia, etc., is likely to be confined to one area of the brain, TBI (closed head injury) often results in brain damage which is widespread or diffuse, resulting in many different impairments.
Physical deficits from TBI often include sensory-motor deficits (e.g., loss of smell, taste, balance, tactile sensation), motor control and coordination problems (e.g., ataxia, dysarthria), fatigue, seizure disorder or epilepsy, decreased tolerance for drugs and alcohol, and headaches.
Cognitive deficits include memory and learning impairment, attention/concentration problems, arousal deficits, slowed mental processing, psychomotor retardation, executive function impairment (deficiencies in planning, organization, problem solving, judgment, abstract reasoning, sequencing, mental flexibility, shifting mental set), visuoperceptual-motor deficits, eye-hand incoordination, language and communication disorders such as aphasia, reading comprehension impairment, initiation problems, and decreased general intellectual functioning.
Psychosocial/emotional/interpersonaI deficits from TBI include loss of emotional control (disinhibition), impulsivity, problems with anger management, impatience, irritability, uncooperativeness, anxiety, adynamia (severely reduced initiative), passivity, apathy, withdrawal, interpersonal and conversational skill deficits, social inappropriateness, self-regulation problems, unrealistic expectations, psychiatric disorders (e.g., depression, psychosis, substance abuse), inability to profit from s.htback or experience, and reduced self-awareness and insight.