Brain Injuries and Sensory Deficits

Sensory deficits following a brain injury are usually the result of damage to either the right side of the brain or the parietal and occipital lobe region. Sensory deficits are those to do with hearing, smell, taste, touch and body language such as emotional and non-verbal signals. These deficits can lead to lack of communication, confusion and frustration. Some may even develop tinnitus, a ringing in the ears.

Other deficits may be auditory perception having to do with sounds and problems to do with visual perception relating to colour confusions, shapes, size, depth and distance. Those who suffer from the sensory deficit of vision loss may experience problems with hand-eye coordination or having blind spots or double vision and may, as a result, be somewhat clumsy.

Another sensory deficit is textile perception relating to pain, pressure and temperature. The skin may also tingle or itch excessively. Olfactory perceptions relates to smells where everything has an unpleasant odor, and gustatory perceptions relate to taste where everything tastes bitter are other deficits.

Those suffering from sensory deficits may also have problems copying or recognizing objects, being able to tell their left from right, doing mathematics, or analyzing and remembering visual information. They may also have a problem with awareness of their body such as when climbing stairs, following directions or constructing even simple objects.

One well-known syndrome involves ignoring something from, typically the left side, i.e.: food on the left side of their plate. They may also have an inability to recognize faces, even those very familiar to them, such as their own spouse, and are often unable to determine emotional cues of any kind. In some cases, they will not even be able to recognize a picture of themselves.

Identifying any object requires most of the senses: sight, (What does it look like?); touch, (What does it feel like?); sound, (What does it sound like if chewed? Does it even have a sound?); smell, (Does it have a smell? What does it smell like?), and by taste, (What does it taste like?). If one or some of these senses don’t work, the person will have to rely on their other senses.

Other solutions may be retraining which will include repetitive and intensive exercises of the necessary skills. This can be effective with specific skills, i.e.: recognizing faces of their closest family members. Compensatory strategies may be another solution. Modifying their environment may also be necessary using safety devices such as hand rails, ramps or by moving furniture, etc. to make movement within their environment easier.

Some sensory deficits may initially go unnoticed by others such as the sense of smell or taste but can be unpleasant for the sufferer. Whereas others can cause severe problems such as vision or communication deficits. Helping to find a solution to these deficits will be important for your loved one.

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