How does a brain injury affect behaviour?

A traumatic brain injury causes damage to the tissue and nerve cells in the brain, which interferes with the way the brain normally functions. How a traumatic brain injury will affect an individual depends on which parts of the brain were damaged and the severity of the injury, which can range from a mild concussion to a catastrophic brain injury. Generally speaking, there are three categories of issues that can occur as a result of a traumatic brain injury: physical, cognitive, and behavioural. This post will focus on changes in behaviour that a person who has suffered a brain injury may experience.

Behavioural changes as a result of a brain injury

A brain injury can cause changes in behaviour, personality, and emotions, which can be very distressing for the brain-injured individual and their loved ones. Behavioural changes can arise soon after the motor vehicle accident that caused the brain injury or may not appear until some time after. Changes may improve as the brain injured individual recovers, but this can take weeks or months. With particularly severe brain injuries, recovery can take years or result in permanent, life-altering  behavioural changes.

Examples of emotional/behavioural changes following traumatic brain injury

Behavioural changes may include:

  • Difficulty with self-control
  • Engaging in risky behaviour
  • Acting inappropriately in social situations
  • Aggression or hostility, including verbal or physical outbursts
  • Restlessness or lack of motivation
  • Irritability, mood swings or extreme emotional reactions

Lack of awareness is also common following a brain injury. The brain injured individual lacks self-awareness, such that they do not realize their deficits or the changes in their behaviour. This can be due to the brain damage itself, or may be a coping mechanism to conceal what they cannot do or to avoid facing the seriousness of their condition.

Cause of behavioural changes due to traumatic brain injury

Behavioral changes and emotional difficulties can be the direct result of the damage to the brain tissue itself, particularly where the motor vehicle accident causes injury to the frontal lobe of the brain which controls behaviour and emotion. Behavioural changes may also be a by-product of cognitive deficits caused by the brain injury. For example, a brain injured person may cognitive deficits that make it difficult to follow conversations, which in turn affects how they behave in social situations. Lastly, the behavioural changes may be part of the brain injured individual’s reaction to their new post-injury reality. The brain injury may impact the individual’s ability to work, maintain relationships, or care for his or herself without supervision – coping with such life-altering changes can cause frustration, depression, and anxiety.

Get help with your ICBC claim from a top Vancouver brain injury lawyer

Recovery following a brain injury is possible, but many accident victims will face life-long challenges that require them to adapt and adjust to a new reality – particularly where the motor vehicle accident has caused a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury. Rehabilitation, retraining, therapy and other supports may be necessary for the brain injured individual to learn to manage emotional and behavioral changes. If you or a loved one has an ICBC claim, contact Simpson, Thomas & Associates at (604) 689 8888 to request a free consultation. As a legal firm with 50 years of experience in personal injury, we work to ensure clients get the best medical and rehabilitation support and fair compensation.

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