December 8, 2023

Accidents do occur, and one of the most common and severe are injuries that affect or damage the head. Any powerful blow or hit on the head that affects the skull, brain, and spine can lead to traumatic brain injury (TBI). The severity of the damage depends on the area of the brain that is affected. The effects of the TBI can be short-lived or can stay with the patient for the rest of their life, depending on the damage caused by the accident.

What is cognition?

The brain has several areas responsible for various body functions. The area of the brain affected in an accident defines which patient’s ability is compromised or affected the most. Cognition is the ability of the person that allows them to perform various actions that include:

  • Concentration and attention
  • Understanding and processing the information
  • Memorizing things and events
  • Organizing, planning, assembling, etc.
  • Problem-solving, reasoning, decision-making, judgment, etc.
  • Communication with the surrounding world
  • Monitoring social behavior and responding, etc.
  • Controlling impulses, being patient, etc.

How does TBI affect cognition?

In the case of traumatic brain injury, if the portion of the brain responsible for controlling the person’s cognitive behavior is affected, it becomes difficult for the person to manage all of the cognitive activities. The changes or loss of cognitive function might be temporary during the phase of recovery from the TBI. These cognitive problems depend on the individual patients based on their condition and the severity of the damage due to the accident. The problem might be temporary, or the patient might remain with the defect for life. 

What are the most common cognitive problems after a traumatic brain injury (TBI)?

The patients tend to lose their attention and concentration after TBI. They might lose the ability to memorize, reason, learn, speech, etc. Their problems solving, planning efficiency, coordination of speech and expression, etc., get affected. The patients might have difficulty handling the daily chores. They cannot communicate with others for longer times as they tend to lose the trail of thoughts. Loss of cognitive functioning can make the person restless, leading to a dependency on others that can cause depression.

How do these cognitive problems impact daily life activities?

The loss or disability of the cognitive skills directly impacts the patient’s normal lifestyle affected by the traumatic brain injury. Impacts on daily life activities include:

  • Patients are easily distracted thus, cannot concentrate on performing a task,
  • Increased  restlessness, and therefore, they are not able to complete the task that they have initiated, 
  • It becomes difficult for them to switch from one task to the other .
  • They are unable to learn new things and remember with ease,
  • Loss of concentration while conversation leads to loss of words during communication, 
  • They take more time to understand and follow the directions.

What treatments are available for cognitive problems after TBI?

Various treatments can help the patients with the cognitive problems after a traumatic brain injury, and these include: 

  • Medications that help to boost the neurotransmitter. These allow the patients to improve their learning and memory. 
  • Occupational therapies help in focusing on teaching the patients to maximize their cognitive powers and improve their quality of life.
  • Patients can improve their environmental surroundings by reducing the noise around them, which will help them to improve their concentration.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps the patients manage their impaired functions and develop their other cognitive skills. 

What can family members and caregivers do to help support someone with cognitive problems after TBI?

The family members and caregivers can support the patients with cognitive problems after TBI in the following ways:

  • The family members can attend the therapy session with the patients to understand and help them reinforce the skills taught to them. 
  • The caregivers or colleagues can give them extra time to think and perform their tasks. 
  • Employers may provide them with an environment with reduced noise disturbance, and this will help them in increasing their concentration at work.
  • Providing realistic and supportive feedback to the solution and working together to find a convenient approach. 

Cognitive skills are essential for communicating with the surrounding. Any traumatic brain injury affecting the cognitive centers of the brain can affect the cognitive abilities of the patient. In such cases, it becomes difficult for the patient to concentrate on information processing, planning, organizing, reasoning, decision-making, etc. Impaired cognitive  abilities makes life challenging as TBI patients depend on others. The different treatments or strategies can help the patients to overcome their cognitive disabilities and lead a quality life with enhanced confidence.