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The effects of a brain injury FAQs

Is it possible for somebody to stay in a coma forever?

A coma is described as significant reduction in the ability to respond to various stimuli. But when this alteration of consciousness persists after a severe injury, it is not known as a coma but as a persistent vegetative state.

There are believed to be differences between persistent vegetative states and comas, however. For example, recent medical studies suggest that people in a state of coma remain aware of their environment, of the people around them and of events.

How should a prolonged state of unconsciousness be treated?

When a person enters a prolonged state of diminished consciousness, which is known as a minimally conscious state, they must be treated with gentle, consistent stimulation of all of their senses. They should be enabled to interact with their environment, however possible. Under no circumstances should it be assumed that the person is unaware of their environment.

What is ‘Locked In Syndrome’?

Locked In Syndrome is a term used to describe an inability to effectively respond to stimulation or communicate.

For many years, people in a minimally conscious state were thought to be unable to respond to communication and stimuli. But over recent times, the medical industry has discovered that persons within a minimally conscious state might be able to receive information but, tragically, are unable to provide a response.

Some, however, may be able to communicate through a system of blinking, making gestures with their face or moving their toes. Rehabilitation for locked in syndrome, then, focuses on developing a system of communication, whilst also maintaining the subject’s physical condition and general health.

What does a neuropsychologist do?

The role of the neuropsychologist is to carry out assessments in order to evaluate the problems a person is experiencing after a severe brain injury, in order to plan the best course of rehabilitation for the individual patient. Understandably, this is a very important factor in the rehabilitation process.

A neuropsychologist identifies cognitive and psychological deficits and then determines the requirements of rehabilitation and the rate of recovery to expect. In some cases, they can also offer a degree of counselling.

What are cognitive problems?

Cognitive problems describe skill deficits which occur after a serious brain injury. Common cognitive problems include:

  • Arousal or over-stimulation

  • Attention and filtering issues

  • Information processing

  • Memory issues

  • Difficulty learning new information

  • Inability to problem solve

  • Loss of higher level thinking

While some cognitive problems resolve themselves over time others may persist and will require specialist rehabilitation services.

What are neurobehavioral problems?

Neurobehavioral problems are problems a person encounters with their behaviour in the aftermath of a serious head injury. They may develop difficulties with self control, impulses, over arousal, short temperedness and a lack of inhibition.

Injured persons may overreact to situations, grow angry without reason or behave inappropriately in public. In some cases, medication may be required. It may also be the case that a seizure disorder has caused irritability or loss of control issues, which can be seen as causes of anger.

What causes anger and aggression after a head injury?

When the lesion caused by a brain injury affects certain parts of the brain it causes a particular effect. Brain lesions on the frontal lobe affect anger, due to the reduction of impulse control.

What causes an inability to control emotions or inappropriate sexual behaviour?

After a brain injury, some people can experience a loss of boundaries when they experience happiness, sadness or sexual arousal. This is because of the location of brain lesions following an injury, which cause a loss of communication between certain areas of the brain.

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