Anoxic Brain Injury

Behavioral Issues

Understanding Behavioral Changes as a Result of Brain Damage

Brain injuries can often result in unusual or aggressive behaviors. Agression is a common consequence of a traumatic brain injury or TBI (NCBI, 2009). Brain injury is often correlated with accidents and blunt force trauma but injury to the brain can occur a as a result of lack of oxygen. This type of injury is called a anoxic brain injury and is the result of oxygen deprivation for longer than 4 minutes (Cromer, 2012). In this case damage to the frontal lobe and hippocampus of the brain has been damaged as a result of oxygen depletion during a heart attack. Anger, confusion, frustration mood swings, and depression are all symptoms that make it difficult for caregivers to provide support to patients. There are treatment options available and it is important for patients to participate in order to successfully adjust to their new circumstances. Caregivers are encouraged to seek education and support due to the difficulties associated with assisting their loved one in adapting to new challenges as a result of a sustained brain injury.


Cromer, J. M. (2012, March 9). After Brain Injury: The Dark Side of Personality Change Part I. Psychology Today.

National Center for Biotechnology Information (2009) Aggression after Traumatic Brain Injury: Prevalence & Correlates Retrieved from

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Frontal Lobe Function

The frontal lobe of the brain is responsible for movement and higher cognitive processes such as abstract thinking (Breedlove & Watson, 2013). The frontal lobe is located under the frontal bone of the head and is the most anterior part of the cerebral hemisphere (University of Toronto, 2012). Damage to this portion of the brain can result in changes to emotional control, motivation, promiscuity and lethargy (Breedlove & Watson, 2013). Patients may experience periods of euphoria after unusually apathetic experiences. It is difficult for individuals with frontal lobe damage to make and execute plans because executive processes are affected. Confusion often causes frustration which can lead to aggressive behaviors. A noticeable difference in facial expressions may be witnessed in some patients. Inappropriate social behaviors are also present in individuals who have experienced damage to this portion of the brain.


Breedlove, S.M., & Watson, N.V. (2013). Biological psychology: An introduction to behavioral, cognitive, and clinical neuroscience (7th ed.). Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, Inc.

Center for Neuro Skills. (2016). The bridge to Meaningful Recovery Retrieved from

Road to Recovery

Rehabilitation services will be necessary to help patients adapt to the changes they are experiencing. This may involve medication but is more likely to include behavioral or psychotherapy, as well as, occupational and physical therapies. It is important that therapeutic methods are tailored to each patient's strengths and needs (TBI Recovery, n.d.). Social support is very important in the healing process for both the patient and caregivers (TBI Recovery, n.d.). A good portion of recovery will involve behavioral therapies. Behavior therapies are used to modify maladaptive behaviors and can be used to help a patient develop self-care skills that were lost (, 2009).

Reference: (2009). Interventions for Behavioral Problems After Brain Injury Retrieved from

TBI Recovery (n.d.) What Kinds of Rehabilitation Does a TBI Survivor Need? Retrieved From

Caretaker Questions

Question #1

What causes angry outbursts?

Patients who have suffered significant brain damage to the temporal lobe experience specific stressors such as frustration due to the inability to conquer certain tasks, sudden change in environment, or over stimulation (, 2009). The frontal lobe is responsible for a person's personality characteristics (, 2016). It is not uncommon for a person with frontal lobe damage to show signs of agression and or emotional outbursts. Behavioral therapies help address this issue and education can help caretakers develop strategies to cope with this situation.

Question #2

What happens after rehabilitation?

The amount of rehabilitation and the length depends on each individual patient. The goal of rehabilitatin for patients suffering from frontal lobe damage is to understand and manage their situation, as well as, assist caregivers in understanding challenges and behaviors (BrainandSpinalCord,.org, 2016).

Question #3

Is it possible for a patient to return to their normal state after rehabilitation?

Rehabilitation provides a solid base for addressing maladaptive behaviors, frustration and depression as a result of a brain injury but a complete reversal is not likely (Brainline, 2009).

References: (2016). Frontal Lobe Brain Injury Retrieved From (2009). Interventions for Behavioral Problems After Brain Injury Retrieved from