Brain drain (2 of 2)


Brain injury can make a person prone to

epileptic seizures or ‘fits’. Many people who

have had a seizure after a Brain Injury are given

a drug for a number of years to reduce the

chance of it recurring. The drug may have an

overall ‘dampening’ effect on the person’s level

of arousal, and therefore on the performance

of everyday tasks. Remember the added effect

that this could have if the person already has

excessive fatigue. It is important to remember

that a person who suffers from seizures may

not be allowed to drive and should contact the

relevant authorities for advice.


Limbs may be stiff or weak, and the range of

movement limited. Often one side of the body

is affected more than the other, depending on

the area of brain that is damaged. This is known

as hemiplegia. Spasticity may cause pain or

discomfort. If this occurs it is advisable to seek

help from a GP, who may be able to prescribe

drugs to reduce muscle spasms.

Weakness or paralysis often affects one side

of the body more than the other. This could

mean that help is needed during personal

care and when getting dressed or undressed.

Muscle weakness may affect continence, and

continence aids may be needed.


This is irregular, uncontrolled movement

or tremor affecting the co-ordination of

movements. The person’s hands may be shaky

or clumsy, and handwriting may be difficult or


Hormonal imbalances

Brain injury may cause damage to the

hypothalamus and/or pituitary gland, which

are small structures at the base of the brain

responsible for regulating the body’s hormones.

Damage to these areas can lead to insufficient

or increased release of one or more hormones,

which causes disruption of the body’s ability

to maintain a stable internal environment

(homeostasis). If damage to the pituitary gland

leads to a reduction in hormone production the

resulting condition is known as hypopituitarism.

Another hormonal condition which can be

caused by Brain Injury is neurogenic diabetes

insipidus, which is usually a short-term

problem in the acute stage after injury but can

occasionally persist in the long-term.



Problems with memory, particularly shortterm

memory, are common after Brain Injury.

Some people may be unable to remember faces

or names, or what they have read or what

has been said to them. New learning may be

affected, whilst previously learned skills may

still be intact.


Reduced initiation and problems with

motivation. Problems with getting started on

tasks are common, and can often be mistaken

for laziness. These problems may also be a

symptom of depression.

Reduced concentration span

This is very common and can also impact on

memory problems. Completing tasks can be a

problem and the task may be abandoned before

reaching the end. The person may initially

appear eager to start a task, but then lose

interest very quickly.

Slower information processing

People can take longer to think things

through or work out what has been said to

them. ‘Information overload’ can be quickly

reached, and can cause frustration and anger.

Reduced problem-solving ability

It may be difficult for the person to work

out what to do if they encounter an unexpected


Repetition or ‘perseveration’

The person may be unable to move on to

another topic in the same conversation, and

they may return to the same topic over and over

again. They may also repeat the same action,

appearing unable to break the cycle.

Reasoning, judgement & insight

Impaired reasoning may affect a person’s

ability to think logically, to understand

rules, or follow discussions. The person may

easily become argumentative due to lack of


Impaired judgement can cause difficulties

in accurately perceiving and interpreting one’s

own and other people’s behaviour and feelings.

Putting oneself ‘in someone else’s shoes’ can be

almost impossible.

Lack of insight means the person may have

an unrealistic view of themselves and others,

and may not appreciate that they have certain

problems. This may lead to unattainable goals

being set, which then leads to failure and


Language loss (aphasia)

This may be ‘receptive’ (difficulty making

sense of what is said or read) or ‘expressive’

(difficulty finding the right words to say or

write), or both. This can be very frustrating

for the person and for others, and patience is

needed on both sides.

Remember – just because a person cannot

express themselves, does not mean they do not

need or want to be heard.

Impaired visual-perceptual skills

The person may have difficulty making

sense out of ordinary pictures and shapes,

finding the way around a building, or drawing

or constructing objects. These problems can

be particularly frustrating for a person who is

quite competent in their language and social

skills. Occasionally, people may fail to respond

to stimuli coming from one side of their visual

field, or may ignore a particular side of their

body, for example when shaving or dressing.

This condition is known as visual neglect.


Loss of confidence

This is very common after Brain Injury and

a person can need a lot of encouragement and


Mood swings or ‘emotional lability’

The person may have a tendency to laugh or

cry very easily, and to move from one emotional

state to another quite suddenly.

Depression and sense of loss are common.

Depression may be caused by injury to the areas

of the brain that control emotion, but can also

be associated with the person gaining an insight

into the other effects of their injury. After Brain

Injury, many things that are precious to the

individual may be lost forever and there may

be much sadness, anger, guilt and confusion,

surrounding this.

Anxiety & frustration

Anxiety can be another consequence of Brain

Injury. Life has been changed forever in a matter

of seconds, and the future can look frightening.

Anxiety can quickly lead to frustration and

anger and needs to be identified and alleviated

as early as possible.

Frustration can build up quickly, especially

when things that were once so easy are now

difficult or impossible. The resulting anger

may be very difficult for the person to control.

Abusive or obscene language may be used. This

may be spontaneous and uncontrollable, and

may be an outlet for the person’s anger and

frustration. This behaviour can obviously be

embarrassing and upsetting for those nearby.


There may be a loss of control over social

behaviour, so that the person may behave in

an over-familiar manner or may make sexual

advances with the wrong people at the wrong

time. They may also be unable to inhibit what

they are thinking and may make inappropriate

and offensive outbursts.


A person with a Brain Injury may tend to

speak or act without thinking things through

properly first.

Obsessive behaviour can occur. For example,

a person may be afraid that their possessions

will be stolen, and may check their belongings


This article is reproduced from with

the permission of Headway – the Brain Injury association.

You can send an email to

to discuss any issues raised. Visit the website for great

resources available for free download.


About treacl - Tony Anstatt

Creative Industries, Education, Architecture
This entry was posted in Brain Injury, Effects, Social, wellbeing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Brain drain (2 of 2)

  1. carynduncan says:

    Brilliant information. Perseverance, is surely better language use than perseveration?!! Thank you Tony.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s