Frontal Lobe Damage
Frontal Lobe Damage
The area known as the frontal lobe is located behind the forehead. Damage to this lobe occurred as a result of a car crash. Other common causes of frontal lobe damage are falls and firearms.
An injury to this area drastically changes your life, and so it is very important to take preventative measures to enhance your safety. Below is a picture of the human brain. The image separates the brain into its specified areas, and gives a brief overview of the behavioral changes that can occur due to a traumatic brain injury to each area. We are going to focus on the frontal lobe, which is the top left part of the diagram and is the maroon portion of the brain.
Functions Controlled by the Frontal Lobe
Your identity is created in the frontal lobe. This area of the brain is where emotions,
problem solving, reasoning, planning and other functions are managed (McAdams, 2013). Also, the frontal lobe is associated with sensory and memory, and it helps humans to
think things through and decide how to utilize data. Some other functions of the frontal lobe include:
- How we know what we are doing
- How we initiate activity in response to our environment
- The judgments we make
- Controls our emotional response
- Controls our expressive language
- Assigns meaning to the words we use
- Memory for habits and motor activities (Lehr, 2016).
Furthermore, the image below gives the primary functions of the frontal lobe.
Changes that Occur following Frontal Lobe Damage
There are many changes that can occur to a person after frontal lobe damage. This includes cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes. Some cognitive changes include a
short attention span, poor short-term memory, and difficulty in planning and reasoning. Some emotional changes that may occur are difficulty in inhibiting emotions such as happiness, anger, excitement, sadness, etc. While behavioral changes include inappropriate humor and telling of pointless stories, aggression, inappropriate sexual behavior, utilization behavior, and perseveration behavior (James & Young, 2013).
It is important to understand that brain cells are unable to regenerate. However, over time, it is possible for the brain to learn to compensate for loss of cells in damaged areas (Perkins, 2011). Usually, treatment for frontal lobe damage involves rehabilitation. This is because the goal is to assess the person’s abilities and to teach individuals new ways to perform tasks such as problem solving and motor skills (Perkins, 2011). Furthermore, other effective treatments that have been found are medications and educating the patient’s family. Educating a family about their loved ones illness is beneficial because it allows them to have an understanding of factors affecting their injury and it also helps to reduce environmental factors that influence the patient's behavior (Salloway, 1994). As for medications, serotonin-boosting medications may be able to improve some behaviors.
Also, since many of the symptoms of frontal lobe damage are similar to those of attention deficit disorder, researchers are conducting preliminary studies to see if these traumatic brain injury victims respond to Ritalin and other ADHD medications (BASC, 2015).
What are the Symptoms of Frontal Lobe Damage?
- Severe headaches
- Fatigue, insomnia, drowsiness; fatigue may be due to sleep disturbances, which are relatively common following TBI’s and include difficulty sleeping, waking up too early, sleeping more than usual, and problems falling asleep (Clinchot, et. al., 1998).
- Emotional and/or social withdrawal
- Attentional and memory deficits; a meta-analytic review found large and significant deficits in specific measures of information processing speed, attention span, focused/selective attention, sustained attention, and supervisory attentional control following severe frontal lobe damage (Mathias & Wheaton, 2007).
- Mood dysregulation
- Impaired social judgement
- Impaired communication skills, such as an impaired capacity to understand conversational inference (Pearce, et. al., 1998).
How is Frontal Lobe Damage Diagnosed?
There are many people that get involved when an individual is suspected to have frontal lobe damage. The team consists of many specialists including a neuropsychologist, a psychiatrist, a physical therapist, a speech therapist, and a social worker. First, a neuropsychologist will run many tests in order to determine if there is damage, and if there is, to what extent. The tests will also be able to determine the exact location of the injury, and will be able to measure what skills and abilities the patient may have suffered due to the injury (BASC, 2015). Common tests that are used to measure the above aspects are MRI’s, CT scans, and X-rays. Then, the neuropsychologist will refer the patient to a physical therapist. The patient’s motor functioning, including strength, balance, coordination, and movement, will be assessed by the physical therapist, who will then suggest exercises and strategies for improvement (BASC, 2015). From there, the patient is referred to a speech consultant. The speech consultant will focus on helping the patient with skills of expression, comprehension, and communication (BASC, 2015). Next, a psychiatrist will work will the individual. The psychiatrist will be skilled in neurology and orthopedics, and will use techniques of physical and medical rehabilitation to help the patient to regain as much functioning as possible (BASC, 2015). Finally, a social worker generally acts as a liaison to facilitate dialogue among the patient, family, and various team members (BASC, 2015).
After an individual receives their diagnosis of a frontal lobe injury, what are some things that an individual should do, or be aware of?
After diagnosis, it is important for an individual to maintain control of their life. Ways this can be done is to:
- Learn everything possible that you can about your injury
- Seek out help where you need it-don’t be afraid to ask for assistance
- Don’t be reluctant to try new things-a new treatment might end up being the next great breakthrough (Bennett, 2008).
- Share what you learn with others- you are not alone, and others may benefit from your experience (Bennett, 2008).
- Don’t be afraid to challenge authorities and question experts. They do not live in your body and they do not experience your life (Bennett, 2008).
- Live your life to the fullest! A brain injury does not define who you are, and you can still live a satisfying and fulfilling life
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