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Managing the cognitive effects of brain injury

The effects of brain injuries can vary significantly according to the nature and severity of the damage. How individuals cope with the consequences can depend upon the cause of the injury, whether traumatic or non-traumatic, and the effects, whether physical, emotional or cognitive.

Types of brain injury vary from simple brain concussions, which are the most common type of injury, to very complex bruising and bleeding in the brain tissue.   In extreme cases these can cause severe physical and cognitive disability.

Traumatic and non-traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injury usually occurs through a direct impact to the head, for example a blow to the head. In addition, this is commonly described as a diffuse axonal injury and the mechanism of the brain hitting the skull and moving within it which can lead to further brain injury.  Non-traumatic brain injury results from damage to the brain through internal processes, such as illness.

Both non-traumatic and traumatic brain injuries can result in various physical, sensory, emotional, behavioural and cognitive effects. Brain injury claims may be appropriate in either case.

Cognitive effects of brain injury

Cognitive effects of brain injury are those which affect the mental abilities of a person, for example, the ability to think, learn and remember. Cognitive effects of brain injury include memory loss (amnesia), concentration and attention problems, difficulties with problem-solving, decision making and multi-tasking, and learning and language disabilities.

For example, Post-Traumatic Amnesia (PTA) can occur immediately after an accident for a short period of time preventing a person from recalling events which happened prior to an accident (retrograde amnesia). Anterior grade amnesia means that a person finds it difficult to recall any events following an accident.

Speed and flexibility of thought process, motivation and a person’s self-awareness can be affected by brain injury, as well as a person’s organisational, planning and perceptual abilities. These latter abilities are controlled by frontal lobes of the brain, which is the large area of the brain directly behind the forehead.   Some clients suffer a change of personality.  Frontal lobe injuries can cause the person to suffer mood swings, lack of inhibition, personal relationships with spouses, family and friends often suffer.

Managing the cognitive effects of brain injury

The cognitive effects of brain injury vary from individual to individual, and the severity of the injury and how they adjust are important in determining the extent of cognitive changes.

Cognitive effects can be long-term and have a very dramatic impact on a person’s day-to-day life. Cognitive difficulties may also trigger a wide range of other problems including depression, aggression and daily frustration. It is, therefore, important that close family members and friends are prepared for the changes and are given help and support to cope with them.

Cognitive effects of brain injury are usually diagnosed by a neurologist, and treated by either a neuropsychologist or occupational speech-language pathologist, depending on the nature of a problem. Specialists and doctors may recommend therapies and coping strategies, such as forward planning, managing fatigue and recognising the symptoms of cognitive overload.   Compensation received in the course of or at the end of a brain injury claim can help to pay for therapies and treatment.  Evidence points to the benefits of early intervention and treatment to the long term outcome.

Comment

It is essential that individuals suffering from cognitive effects following a brain injury receive the support they need.  A particular challenge with coping with brain injury is that the injured person often looks ‘okay’ and therefore understanding the changes brain injuries cause can be a huge challenge to the injured person, their family and friends.

Brain injury claims can provide the compensation required to help pay for essential treatment and support. Call us today on 020 7650 1200 and speak to one of our specialist brain injury lawyers to make sure that you get the right help. If you prefer please fill in one of our enquiry forms and someone will get back to you shortly.

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