You never expected to survive your car accident. You saw the truck coming at you as you approached the Nall Ave. exit, and the only thing you remember after that is being pushed off the side of I-435. It’s taken several months, but you’re finally starting to feel like yourself. Your casts are coming off soon, and everyone at work has been sending you encouraging letters, hoping that they’ll see you soon.
But the problem is, they don’t know who they’re going to see when you return to work—and you’re not entirely sure, either.
Traumatic Brain Injuries Can Cause a Variety of Cognitive Problems
In addition to mood changes and memory loss, brain injury victims can often experience cognition problems. These “thinking skills” include reasoning, problem solving, attention to detail, facial recognition, ability to do mental math, and awareness of the patient’s surroundings. The severity of the symptoms will depend on the location of the injury and extent of the trauma, but patients will commonly suffer some degree of:
- Increased processing times. You may have asked people around you to speak slower as you recover. This is because the brain’s ability to process information has been affected. Instead of immediately assimilating and processing speech, your conversations may have to be cut into smaller pieces so that you can absorb a block at a time. For a while, you may even have to repeat information back to the speaker to make sure you have taken in all of the information.
- Difficulty concentrating. You may suffer an inability to focus on more than one task, or giving someone your complete attention when there are distractions in the room. Your doctors may recommend some concentration exercises, such as timed puzzles, that can help you hold your focus for longer periods.
- Recent memory problems. In many cases, victims who have memory problems have no difficulty recalling friends and family, but cannot remember things that happened two days ago. Your short-term memory may be affected because it is more difficult for the brain to create new memories than to store old ones.
- Executive function impairment. Executive functions are the daily regimen of tasks people need to accomplish their goals. TBI patients may have trouble initiating a task, setting goals, making plans, completing tasks, and organizing information. You may also find that your solution to a problem may differ from others as your ability to self-evaluate could be compromised.
It may take time to relearn old information, but finding an effective course of treatment can help improve both your injury and your emotional health. Find out which therapeutic methods can help you work through your cognitive problems after a TBI in our FREE e-book, Brain Injury Survivor's Guide. Click the link on this page to begin reading.