Brain Injuries and Behavioral Problems

Behavioral problems quite often are a result of brain injuries. There can be many problems or few depending upon the severity of the injury and in what part of the brain the injury is located. Some of the potential problems are as follows:

Mood swings, depression, hyperactivity, aggression, sexual inappropriateness and/or promiscuity, lack of initiative or motivation, changes in emotional control, lack of impulse control, poor concentration, lack of empathy, fatigue, thoughtless or hurtful remarks, difficulty in relating to others, excessive demands, personality changes, a tendency towards being frustrated, irritated or angering easily. Unawareness of others’ feelings is often another deficit and may be something that has to be relearned. Another serious and very common problem is short-term memory difficulties, as is a lack of awareness of their deficits.

If a brain injury survivor is affected with any of these behavioral problems, it is very stressful for family members and caregivers. It may be important to have cognitive and behavioral rehabilitation and possibly the help of a neuropsychologist. It will also be important to have an assessment done which will help both the survivor and the family member. And because behavioral problems not only affects relationships but performance in school and work, it will be necessary to attempt to alleviate the problems or at the least, to help cope with their impact. The following are some of the things that can be done in order to help minimize problems associated with behavioral changes following a brain injury:

– to be calm and speak in a soothing manner when the brain injured survivor is angry or frustrated;
– help them attempt to problem-solve their difficulties;
– use anger management strategies and remain low-key;
– avoid confrontation if they are angry;
– attempt to distract;
– attempt to identify any triggers so as to avoid future difficult situations;
– encourage the survivor to join a support group;
– be non-judgmental;
– help a sufferer of a brain injury to have positive experiences by offering encouragement and support;
– avoid arguments and criticism;
– help them to have a schedule and structure in their lives;
– don’t give too much information at one time;
– establish consistency and always remain calm;
– and, if depression is suspected, have survivor see the doctor and if necessary, ensure that he/she gets treatment.

A total reversal of behavioral problems following a brain injury may not be possible. Modifying behavior may be a more realistic goal while working towards improved quality of life and successful community integration.

Developing adaptive behavior requires recognizing triggers and anticipating factors preceding the behavior. These may be internal such as fatigue or hunger. External factors may be a frustrating task or increased levels of stimulation. Prior signs to difficult behavior may be pacing, becoming fidgety, muttering to themselves or their face may become flushed. Early intervention when a problem arises may assist them, over time, in changing their behaviors.

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