The Impact of Brain Injury and Psychological Disorder

  • 07 Pages
  • Published On: 04-10-2023


A psychiatric disorder is frequently reported after a traumatic brain injury (TBI). However, the damaged caused by penetrated head injury can result in the same degree of Psychiatric disorder or worse. The infamous incident of Phineas Gage in 1848 was the first detailed brained reported cases (Damasio et al., 1994). Gage, 25-year-old construction worker was struck by an iron rod and went through his skull cause severe damage to the frontal lobe of the brain. Although he survived the incident, Gage behavior including his personality and social life changed. Once described as a responsible, industrious, and well-adopted man, became irresponsible, profane and neglect post- injury with no impairment in speech and language.

The impact of the brain injury and psychological disorder can be categorized depending on the affected area, the damage incurred and the age the injury was sustained.

1. Cognitive impairment


In most reported cases pertaining brain injury, ranging from moderate to severe, the patients are likely to have difficulty with cognitive skills, especially in the early stages of recovery (Stuss & Benson, 1984). The impairment is predominant in the nonverbal functioning of the body. Andrews (2016) stated that a wider area of cognitive skills such as perception, language, and self-awareness might be severely affected. Recent research has demonstrated significant cognitive deficits particularly in children suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI). This has resulted in impairment in their class performance, difficulty in paying attention, task concentration, completion and lack of consequence predictability, and retrograde and anterograde amnesia (Damasio, 1994). Therefore, this will require a modification over time adapting to the change.

The individual’s perceptual skills, the ability to identify and interpret information received from the senses such as object recognition, can also be impaired. A study conducted by Sperry (1968), demonstrated the correlation of brain hemisphere and language skills. If the left hemisphere of the brain is damaged, the individual will experience lag in communication and language skills (Sperry & Trevarthen, 1990).

2.Psychosocial and psychological effects

Brain injury can result in emotional and extensive behavioral changes. Casing the Gage incident, a study has shown damage in the orbitofrontal cortex, which controls the emotional and social behavior, result in reducing in people’s inhibitions and self-concern, limited reliability. In the study, Kluver & Bucy (1939) demonstrate how the amygdala part influences the person’s emotional behavior; removal of the amygdala in monkeys caused a range of emotional disturbances. As collaborated by a study done by Raine et al., (1997), the 41 participants studied who had pleaded not guilty to murder charges, the result showed abnormal asymmetries of activity in the amygdala suggesting its role in violence-related nature of the human (Canli et al., 2001; Eslinger & Damasio.1994).

Further study by LeDoux et al., (2013), proposes significance of Amygdala in recognition and experience of aversive emotional stimuli mainly fears. Removal of Amygdala in rats reduced or rather eliminated the fear factor and could no longer learn fear in the new threatening environment. Amygdala is of much importance in animal survival and human emotional response. A study by Isenberg et al. (1999) and Canli et al., (2000) elaborated the psychological difference between the psychopaths and normal human being. Where the activities in Amygdala normally increases when a threatening situation is posed, the psychopath usually maintains activities in the region suggesting that they do not feel emotional or empathy.

3. The risk in the developmental processes

A significant risk encountered by patients particularly children suffering from TBI is impairment in the developmental process. Taylor (2008), in his research paper on the correlation between injury and pre-injury abilities to the development process post-injury noted that injuries sustained at an early age on children, may present similar patterns of impairment, but will display poorer outcome than other sustained similar injuries later in life (Anderson & Moore, 1995). Furthermore, another research found that the injuries incurred concurrently with development process may result in incomplete recollection of abilities. Damaged brain cells can neither repair nor regenerate themselves after the damage. However, neural connections can form around the affected area of the brain and consequently take over the functions previously held by damaged brain cells (Damasio, 2006). The reorganization of the brain cells and their composition might have a significant consequence especially if the brain were still under development. For instances, some research has indicated that the functionality of the affected part of the brain can be taken by the other parts, like language and speech functions normally in the left hemisphere can be assumed by the right hemisphere.

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Brain injury can result in some psychological changes, ranging from temporary lapses in ability and person’s behavior to permanent and profound consequences such as reduction in core competencies, change in behavior and difficulty in controlling the tempers and emotions. Personality, emotional and developmental impairment and change can also occur as a resultant to brain injury.


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