How a Traumatic Brain Injury Can Affect Personality

While physical symptoms such as difficulties with walking, seizures, slurred speech, and extreme light sensitivity may be obvious to others, the inward damage from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is not.  This is just one reason why persistent symptoms after a traumatic brain injury have earned the label of invisible illness.  Others cannot see the damage from the injury to the head caused in the brain.  However, they are sure to notice behavioral issues and TBI personality changes.

Every Brain Injury is Different

No two people will experience the effects of a TBI the same way.  Some may have mild to moderate symptoms right away while others develop serious traumatic brain injury symptoms years later.  It is common for people who survived a brain injury to complain of cognitive problems such as:

  • Short-term memory impairment
  • Difficulty finding the right words when speaking
  • Inability to concentrate
  • A frequent feeling of mental overload and fatigue

While these symptoms can be distressing, it is often the personality changes after brain injury that surprise survivors, caregivers, and family the most.

The Relationship Between Serious Head Injuries and Personality Changes

A traumatic brain injury causes chemical rather than structural changes in the brain.  That means the damage a person has sustained often does not show up on imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI.  Damage to the brain most frequently occurs in the amygdala, frontal lobes, hippocampus, or temporal lobes.  Since each of these areas controls different functions, brain injured people may experience varying degrees of problem behavior depending on the area injured.

TBI personality changes can be the most apparent when the survivor reacts with frustration to the limits of his or her injury.  Confusion is common, which means that someone who has suffered a traumatic brain injury may not understand requests from others and respond to them with hostility.  The more the injured person senses a loss of control over his or her life, the greater the likelihood of behavioral issues.

Damage to Executive Functioning

When a person sustains damage to one or more areas of the brain listed above, it can cause significant issues with executive functioning.  This term refers to a set of complex skills that human beings use to solve problems, make rational decisions, plan a sequence of events, and live in harmony with others.  Behavioral outbursts among people with a brain injury make sense when you consider that they have nowhere near the capacity for self-regulation that they possessed before the injury.

Common Behavioral Issues Among People Who Have Suffered a TBI

Physical or verbal aggression is a common outcome of people who experience personality changes after brain injury.  The affected individual may lash out in anger at others or say hurtful and inappropriate things without the understanding of why their words or actions would upset others.  This can damage or destroy relationships with family and friends and can even get the person with a brain injury fired from his or her job.

Physical aggression after TBI in a person who was previously easy-going is an especially unpleasant effect of the injury.  Family members may no longer be safe around the injured person, particularly when the violent outbursts come on without warning.  A doctor may be able to prescribe medication that can reduce the number and severity of aggressive episodes.  Learning how to redirect thoughts and actions with the help of a therapist knowledgeable about TBI can also be helpful.

A person who has suffered a traumatic brain injury can seem more irritable than before, particularly in a high-stress environment or one that produces sensory overload.  Different lighting patterns, noise, crowds, and demands from others can seem overwhelming.  To protect themselves from further discomfort, brain injured people may remove themselves from over-stimulating environments and stressful situations.  This can be frustrating to others who depend on him or her to remain present and solve problems.

Lack of motivation is yet another troubling personality change that can occur after a brain injury.  The person may put in the bare minimum effort at work and home due to the effects of chemical changes within the brain.  Someone who was a high performer at work may suddenly develop a blasé attitude towards it or a parent of young children may not care for them properly.  Some people with brain injuries even struggle to keep up with their own personal hygiene tasks.  Life feels exhausting and overwhelming to them.

Eventually, the wide range of behavioral issues after a traumatic brain injury can lead to long-time struggles with psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  The latter is more common among people who have survived severe accidents or a physical assault that caused the TBI in the first place.

How Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help People with TBI

A traumatic brain injury can alter the course of a person’s life in an instant.  When the injury occurred due to negligence or a deliberate assault from another individual, the person with TBI has the right to file a lawsuit.  A personal injury attorney will investigate your case to determine liability for your injuries.  They will then file a lawsuit against the other party on your behalf.

A successful settlement provides you with money for medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and other actual costs.  Insurance companies and juries will also determine if you are eligible for non-financial damages such as pain and suffering.  You can learn more about the process by scheduling an appointment for a free legal consultation with a Florida personal injury attorney today.


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