How TBI Affects Cognition

Posted on June 24, 2020

What is cognition?

Cognition or cognitive skills refers to the brain’s ability to 

  • Understand
  • Make Decisions
  • Memory
  • Communicate
  • Problem-Solving
  • Controlling Impulses
  • Concentration
  • Processing Information

It clearly plays a major role in our daily life. However, after TBI, most victims face difficulty in carrying out everyday chores and need a caregiver by their side at all times.

How is cognition affected?

Cognition can be said to be the central operating system in the brain; hence it gets affected the most:

  1. Problems in concentrating and being self-aware

After an injury, everything may seem quite different, and most importantly, your ability to focus becomes weak. Getting restless and distracted becomes frequent hence making you feel anxious. It gets hard to work and register multiple things at a time, which also leads to feeling lost during a conversation or sitting idle for a long time. It might happen due to loss of contact between synapses causing the signal to not reach your brain.

  1. Speech and Communication

As mentioned above, the lost signal has a direct impact on your behavior, especially when you’re talking, walking or even standing. You will notice slurred speech or completely forgetting what you were saying. The injury can make you stiff and emotionless that can cause misunderstanding while joking or use of sarcasm. You might also collapse or feel a jerk while walking or standing that can result in giving you another head injury. So try walking with some support or have someone around.

  1. Difficulty in processing information

It is common for TBI patients to have difficulty understanding what people say, follow instructions, read and understand books or newspaper. Since they are sensitive to sound and light, it’s hard for them to watch TV for a long time. Their taste, smell and sight becomes weak or even diminishes completely over time which may cause depression and frustration sometimes. The limbs and brain coordination also deteriorates that makes it troublesome to wear clothes, cook or even take a shower on their own.

  1. Poor memory

The most prominent change after TBI is having issues remembering and learning things. In severe cases, the person might have short term memory loss or episodes after which their memory resets to a particular time. Remembering appointments or taking medicine can also be hard. People with TBI also have trouble adjusting to a new environment or change and can get easily lost while in public.

  1. Problem-solving and judgement 

This problem slightly resembles Alzheimer’s disease since, in both cases, the person fails to recognize the problem hence not reacting to it appropriately. Sometimes finding the solution becomes a problem. A trivial example, a person needs to use the restroom but due to their poor judgment, are unable to respond to it. It’s safer for them to have a caretaker around.

  1. Poor hygiene and impulsive behavior

TBI victims become less sensitive and unaware of their surroundings. They fail to realize about dirty and messy surroundings. Poor hygiene can have an adverse effect on their health, but it’s difficult for them to identify this. Insensitivity also gives way impulsive and inappropriate behavior like shouting, screaming or being absolutely cold and emotionless. However, the people surrounding a TBI patient should be extra considerate and understanding since these actions can be hard to control.

Immediately after getting discharged or diagnosed with TBI, make sure to receive proper rehabilitation by consulting a neuropsychologist.