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Traumatic Brain Injury - Effects on Functioning

A traumatic brain injury causes damage to the nerve cells in the brain and interferes with normal brain activity greatly affecting how a person functions.

Three types of problems can occur after a traumatic brain injury:

• Physical Effects

    o Headaches

    o Difficulty speaking

    o Blurry eyesight

    o Trouble hearing

    o Loss of energy

    o Change in sense of taste or smell

    o Dizziness or trouble with balance

• Cognitive Effects

    o Difficulty concentrating

    o Trouble with attention

    o Forgetfulness

    o Difficulty making decisions

    o Repeating things

• Behavioral Effects

    o Becoming angry easily

    o Getting frustrated

    o Acting without thinking

The brain is divided into two hemispheres. The left hemisphere controls movement and sensation in the right side of the body and the right hemisphere controls movement and sensation in the left side of the body. Usually the left hemisphere of the brain is responsible for verbal and logical functions including language (listening, reading, speaking and writing), thought and memory. The right hemisphere is responsible for non-verbal and intuitive functions such as putting bits of information together to make up an entire picture recognizing oral and visual patterns and designs and expressing and understanding emotions.

The brain is made up of six parts that can be injured by the traumatic brain injury. The effect of the traumatic brain injury is determined by the location of the injury in the brain. Sometimes a single area is affected and other times multiple areas are affected because the injury is diffuse. The areas are as follows:

• Brain stem - Breathing, heart rates, swallowing, reflexes, blood pressure, digestion, temperature, sleeping.

• Cerebellum - Voluntary movement, balance, memory for reflex motor acts.

• Frontal lobe - Reasoning and problem solving, understanding abstract concepts, thinking and organizing, memory, word associations, expression, emotion, judgments, what we do and how we act in our environment.

• Parietal lobe - Visual, touch, voluntary movements, manipulation, integration of different senses.

• Occipital lobes - Vision

• Temporal lobes - Hearing, memory, visual perception, processing verbal information, emotion, categorization of objects.

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