The Psychological Effects Of Brain Injuries

Table of Contents

    Brain damage is one of the most devastating traumas that victims can sustain. While most physical injuries heal over time, the psychological effects of brain injuries often last a lifetime. A doctor can repair a broken bone or perform surgery for internal injuries. On the other hand, there is not a single best way to treat people who have sustained psychological damage from brain injuries. Even with treatment and ongoing therapy, full recovery is not always guaranteed.

    According to the International Brain Injury Association, one million Americans are treated in hospital emergency rooms due to traumatic brain injury (TBI). Of these, 230,000 are hospitalized and survive, while 80,000 are discharged with some TBI-related disability. Many traumatic brain injury examples exist. These may include concussions, bruises, hematomas, encephalitis, skull fractures, hemorrhages, penetrating injuries, diffuse axonal injuries, and anoxic or hypoxic injuries.

    Recovery from these injuries can be lengthy and expensive, often leaving individuals struggling to meet substantial financial costs. While victims can get compensation, it often falls short of covering the full cost of recovery. This is why having access to legal counsel is crucial.

    You should not suffer the consequences of someone else’s negligence. Physical, emotional, and financial outcomes put your future in jeopardy, regardless of the severity of the psychological damage an accident has caused you. At our esteemed personal injury law firm in California, our brain injury lawyers can help protect your future by pursuing maximum compensation on your behalf.

    Psychological Changes After Traumatic Brain Injury

    Dr. Andy Tyerman’s e-booklet, published by Headway – The Brain Injury Association, is a study of the behavior of people with brain damage. He said the term “psychological effects” describes how a brain injury affects a person’s cognition, behavior, emotions, family relationships, career, and social interactions. These changes are broad, ranging from short-term behavioral lapses to a severe and irreversible loss of basic skills and emotion regulation. Additionally, these changes don’t show up right away. Therefore, if you are injured in an accident that may lead to a TBI, you must seek medical attention immediately.

    Psychological problems can result from brain damage due to blunt trauma. However, more often than not, they result from a mix of biological and environmental factors that are beyond one’s control. Sadly, in cases where the brain injury is a result of an accident, negligence is almost always a contributing factor. If the at-fault party had chosen to exercise care in the situation, these problems could have been avoided.

    Impairments On Cognition

    Cognition refers to how we think, perceive, and reason, whether consciously or unconsciously. A brain injury can significantly affect these functions. Victims might suddenly find difficulties in forming or recalling memories, speaking their first language, and other advanced cognitive skills, such as:

    • Planning
    • Decision-making
    • Organizing one’s thoughts
    • Following multi-step instructions

    These often permanent brain damage symptoms can be subtle and difficult to observe since victims might still be able to remember distant memories and knowledge. The problems may only become apparent during formal neuropsychological testing, rehabilitation, or upon returning to work.

    In general, victims might experience the following cognition issues after a TBI.

    Memory Formation & Recollection

    Memory lapses due to brain injuries may last from mere seconds to years. Victims may also struggle to learn and recall new details, such as the personal information of new people they meet. They may suffer from either of the following:

    • Retrograde amnesia – It refers to the inability to remember memories from before the accident. Recalling the circumstances of the injury can be quite difficult for individuals who suffer from retrograde amnesia, as they may have only vague recollections or no memory of the events leading up to their injury. The memory loss can be temporary or permanent, depending on the severity and cause.
    • Post-traumatic amnesia – After experiencing a TBI, the victim might face memory loss or disorientation. They may be conscious but unable to recognize their surroundings or themselves. Post-traumatic amnesia can lead to an inability to form day-to-day memories following the accident.
    Attention, Concentration, & Speed Of Information Processing

    People with brain injuries suffer from divided attention or multitasking. Additionally, they might find that noise and other distractions can easily break up their train of thought or concentration. As a result, they may need information to be repeated more frequently. Ultimately, these effects can affect their job and social life.

    Furthermore, individuals with brain injuries may take longer to absorb new knowledge. They may read books or watch videos at a slower pace, struggle to keep up with conversations and express delayed reactions to things in general. Lastly, they may display perseveration or the repetitive tendency to be stuck on certain topics, ideas, or thought patterns.

    Language Skills

    Those with brain injuries may find it hard to organize their thoughts and express themselves through words. They may experience a significant reduction in their vocabulary, making it more difficult to articulate complicated ideas. Moreover, they may struggle to recognize speech sounds, words, or sentence structures. Specific reading, writing, and spelling issues may also arise.

    Perceptual, Spatial, & Constructional Skills

    A severe brain injury can impair one’s senses and perception. They may have difficulty recognizing objects, faces, and other visual materials. Double vision, another common side effect, can worsen these issues.

    Victims may misjudge distances, have incorrect perceptions, and find it hard to locate items and follow known routes. Some may disregard stimuli on a specific side of their body, such as during shaving or dressing. They may also struggle with copying, sketching, completing puzzles, and accomplishing DIY chores.

    Executive Function, Awareness, & Insight

    Brain injuries impair executive skills like planning, reasoning, problem-solving, decision-making, and self-monitoring. Victims may become inflexible, reiterating their opinions without considering others’ perspectives. They may also have trouble evaluating their actions, planning their lives, and using coping mechanisms effectively.

    Due to damage to the brain’s frontal lobe, patients may also have difficulties understanding and perceiving their own conditions. This lack of insight is known as anosognosia.

    Moreover, individuals suffering from TBI may lose motivation. They may sleep excessively, isolate themselves, have difficulty accomplishing daily tasks, or have generally low activity.

    As they heal, people with brain injuries may gradually become aware of their major problems, including movement, speech, or memory. Still, they may remain unaware of subtle impairments. They may misinterpret social settings and miss social cues, appearing awkward and inappropriate.

    Motor & Sensory Functions

    Depending on its severity and the affected area, a brain injury can also impair a person’s motor function, affecting their ability to walk, talk, or move their limbs at will. In addition, things might not taste or smell the same as they once did. Victims may also have heightened or reduced sensitivity to touch, smell, taste, texture, and visual stimuli.

    Changes In Behaviors & Emotions

    Post-concussion syndrome from a minor injury can present symptoms like headaches, nausea, fatigue, irritability, and poor memory and attention. Although these behavioral and emotional changes may be temporary, they can still persist and cause long-term problems for the victim and their family. After a brain injury, people may appear to have recovered but feel and look like they’re not the same anymore. Here are the changes that commonly show in victims.

    Behavioral Changes – What Are The Behavioral Effects Of Brain Injury?

    What are the psychological implications of brain damage? People with brain trauma display a wide range of behavioral shifts. From paranoia to sleep disturbances, these changes might be seen as uncharacteristic of the victim or an exaggeration of existing personality traits.

    Scan of a person's brain after having a brain injury

    Disinhibition Vs. Apathy & Loss Of Initiative

    People with a brain injury may lose control over their behavior and impulses. This loss of control can lead to socially awkward situations, such as making inappropriate comments, laughing at the wrong time, making sexual advances, and using crude language. For some, the effects may be long-lasting, resulting in unpredictable and aggressive behavior.

    In addition, brain injuries can cause victims to lose initiative, become passive, or become unresponsive. Other affected individuals may appear indifferent or ignorant of their problems. Even those who seem eager to participate in or do an activity might lack the organizational skills to do it.

    Irritability & Aggression

    Increased irritability is a very common experience among TBI survivors. It is also typical for them to display aggression in the form of outbursts and bad language, often due to frustrations caused by the slow recovery. Although these behaviors are to be expected, they still need to be addressed.


    Victims may appear to be selfish and inconsiderate toward others, even those closest to them. They may have trouble understanding and empathizing with different people’s experiences and perspectives, as well as their own needs and wants.

    Emotional Problems – Can A Brain Injury Cause A Personality Change?

    Various factors, such as an individual’s personality, family background, support system, and coping mechanisms before an accident, can influence the impact of a brain injury on their emotions. While the circumstances and presentation of each brain injury case are unique, the specific brain region affected and the severity of the injury typically influence the emotional problems a victim might manifest.

    Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, & Other Mental Disorders

    Depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD, and other mental disorders are common after brain damage. It can be depressing for victims to go home after treatment and realize how much has changed. Aside from the physical changes to the brain, a person’s emotional reactions to changes in their life can contribute to depressive episodes.

    Stress can be especially challenging for TBI survivors. Losing physical, cognitive, and social skills can affect their ability to resume their hobbies, return to work, and foster previous relationships with family and friends. These challenges further add to the stress, leading to anxiety.

    Emotional Lability & Flat Affect

    An individual with brain damage may have dramatic mood swings, going from being cheerful to being depressed within a short time. This condition is known as emotional lability. It also refers to reactions that are out of context, such as having erratic responses to things that used to calm them or laughing at sad movies.

    The mood swings they experience can make it difficult for them to return to their social lives. Family members and friends may get anxious not to “set them off,” especially since being irritated or even violent is common among TBI survivors.

    In contrast to excessive mood display or inappropriate reactions, damage to certain vital brain regions — including the frontal lobe, amygdala, hypothalamus, and hippocampus — can lead to a lack of expressiveness. People with this condition, known as flat affect, can still feel emotions but are incapable of communicating them. Instead, they display them through a monotonous tone of voice or reduced intensity in facial expressions.

    Changes In Self-Concept – How Can A Brain Injury Affect Someone’s Personality?

    Because of the long-term effects of traumatic brain injury, affected individuals may have noticeable changes in the way they view themselves or their self-concept. If the victims’ injuries are minor, they may feel unsure about their identity, thinking they’re not quite the person they once were. Meanwhile, those with moderate to severe injuries may face complex and perplexing neurological disabilities well outside the range of normal experience. As the victim recovers and learns about their condition, their identity may be threatened.

    Behavioral and emotional changes can be extremely upsetting, particularly when a person feels they no longer have control over their feelings, thoughts, or behaviors. These changes can lead to a sense of hopelessness and inadequacy, particularly when trying to reintegrate into society. It can also result in a decline in quality of life, as they will have difficulties returning to work or engaging in activities they enjoyed previously.

    Their condition can also deeply devastate their family and friends, especially since most people don’t understand the injury’s nature and effects. After surviving the immediate crisis, it may take a while for the victim to restore physical, mental, and social abilities. There might be gradual improvements, but intensive therapy and rehabilitation won’t ensure the victim fully recovers their abilities and activities. Ultimately, it’s up to the survivors to find and create new purpose and meaning in their lives.

    Occupational & Social Changes – How Traumatic Brain Injury Affects Daily Life

    Aside from the psychological effects, brain trauma also damages the person’s interpersonal and social life — from close relationships and acquaintances to employment and careers.

    • Occupational Impacts – TBIs may make it impossible for a person to resume their previous work, particularly when their tasks demand a high level of executive function. The combination of costly medical expenses and lost income can result in significant financial stress. Additionally, managing finances itself may become more challenging due to difficulties in processing information. It’s crucial for victims not to rush back to their normal routine too soon. Instead, they should gradually ease back into their routine with fewer responsibilities to prevent becoming overwhelmed.
    • Social & Leisure Activities – Until they can reestablish their social lives, individuals with TBI may become socially isolated and reliant on their families. While families can be a great source of support and can plan fun activities, it may be challenging for them to initiate unless the victim expresses interest in participating.
    • Changes In Relationships – Personality changes can potentially jeopardize relationships with friends, family, and partners. They often experience social isolation when they can’t engage in the activities they once found enjoyable. Stress in relationships can also make mental health issues worse. However, many victims grow resilient, even with little or no support. While some may naturally adapt to changes, others may struggle and need help to move forward successfully.

    Psychological Services & Treatments For Traumatic Brain Injury Patients

    Various psychological services and treatments are available to people with brain injuries and their families at every step of the recovery process. These options may range from acute care to resettlement and long-term support. The most common ones include cognitive assessment and rehabilitation, behavioral management, social skills training, and varied therapies like psychological counseling, individual psychotherapy, and family therapy.

    Various health experts can provide these services. Clinical brain injury psychologists and other professionals, including psychiatrists, social workers, nurses, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and teachers, can help patients recover.

    Resources For TBI Victims In The United States
    U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Traumatic Brain Injury – Residential Rehabilitation Brain Injury Association Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
    Veteran Crisis Line:

    • Main: 988, then press 1
    • Text: 838255
    • TTY: (800) 799-4889
    • Chat: Get Help Now


    810 Vermont Avenue
    NW Washington DC 20420

    Contact Number:

    • Phone: (703) 761-0750
    • Fax: (703) 761-0755


    3057 Nutley Street #805
    Fairfax, VA 22031-1931

    Contact Number:

    • National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
    • TTY:1-800-487-4889


    5600 Fishers Lane
    Rockville, Maryland 20857

    National Association of State Head Injury Administrators Job Accommodation Network UCLA’s Health Operation Mend
    Contact Number: (202) 681-7840


    PO Box 1878
    Alabaster, Alabama 35007

    Contact Number:

    • Main: (800) 526-723
    • TTY: (877) 781-9403

    This program aims to provide help to post-9/11 military, veterans, and family members.

    Contact Number: (310) 267-2110



    924 Westwood Blvd, Suite 1040
    Los Angeles, CA 90095

    Resources For TBI Victims In California
    Brain Injury Association of California Sutter Health’s Alta Bates Summit Regional Acute Rehabilitation Center Sutter Health’s California Pacific Regional Rehabilitation Center
    Contact Number: (661) 872-4903


    1800 30th St.
    Suite 250
    Bakersfield, CA 93301

    Contact Number: (510) 869-6325


    350 Hawthorne Ave.
    Oakland, CA 94609

    Contact Number:

    • Main: (415) 600-6153
    • Inpatient Rehabilitation Center: (415) 600-5153
    • Outpatient Services: (415) 600-5393



    Castro & Duboce Streets
    Davies Campus
    San Francisco, CA 94114

    Casa Colina Centers for Rehabilitation Centre for Neuro Skills – Bakersfield Centre for Neuro Skills – Los Angeles
    Contact Number:

    • Main: (909) 596-7733
    • Toll-Free: (866) 724-4127


    255 East Bonita Avenue
    Pomona, CA 91767

    Contact Number:

    • Main: (661) 872-3408
    • Toll-Free: (800) 922-4994



    5215 Ashe Road
    Bakersfield, CA 93313

    Contact Number:

    • Main: (818) 783-3800
    • Toll-Free: (800) 992-6752



    16542 Ventura Boulevard
    Suite 500
    Encino, CA 91436

    Centre for Neuro Skills – San Francisco Community Regional Medical Center – Fresno Adventist Health Glendale Neurological Rehabilitation
    Contact Number:

    • Main: (510) 318-8600
    • Toll-Free: (800) 922-4994



    2200 Powell Street
    Suite 120
    Emeryville, CA 94608

    Contact Number: (559) 459-6000


    2823 Fresno St.
    Fresno, CA 93721

    Contact Number:

    • Main: (818) 409-8000
    • Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation: (818) 409-8071


    1509 Wilson Terrace
    Glendale, CA 92106

    Good Samaritan Hospital Inpatient Rehabilitation Program Kaiser Foundation Rehabilitation Center Learning Services – California
    Contact Number:

    • Main: (408) 559-2011
    • Inpatient Rehabilitation Program: (408) 358-5689
    • Outpatient Rehabilitation Program: (408) 559-2377


    • Main: 2425 Samaritan Dr., San Jose, CA 95124
    • Mission Oaks Campus: 15891 Los Gatos Almaden Rd, Los Gatos, CA 95032
    Contact Number: (707) 651-1000


    975 Sereno Drive
    3rd Floor
    Vallejo, CA 94589

    Contact Number: (888) 419-9955


    • Northern California Program: 10855 DeBruin Way, Gilroy, CA 95020
    • Southern California Program: 2335 Bear Valley Parkway, Escondido, CA 92027
    Providence Mission Hospital Mission Viejo Rehabilitation Services (Outpatient) NeuroRestorative – Orange County NeuroRestorative – Santa Barbara
    Contact Number:

    • Main: (949) 364-9637


    26732 Crown Valley Pkwy
    Suite 261 and 291
    Mission Viejo, CA 92691

    Contact Number:

    • Main: (714) 771-5276
    • Referral Line: (800) 743-6802


    7732 East Santiago Canyon Road
    Orange, CA 92869

    Contact Number: (800) 683-1995


    1135 North Patterson Avenue
    Santa Barbara, CA 93111

    Santa Clara Valley Medical Center – Rehabilitation Research Center Northridge Hospital Medical Center for Rehabilitation Medicine Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center
    Contact Number:

    • Main: (408) 885-5000
    • TTY: (408) 971-4068


    751 South Bascom Avenue
    San Jose, CA 95128

    Contact Number:

    • Inpatient Rehabilitation Services: (818) 700-5648
    • Outpatient Rehabilitation Services: (818) 885-5334


    18300 Roscoe Boulevard
    Northridge, CA 91328

    Contact Number:

    • (562) 401-7111
    • (866) RANCHO-1


    7601 E. Imperial Highway
    Downey, California 90242

    San Joaquin Valley Rehabilitation Hospital Scripps Memorial Hospital – Encinitas Rehabilitation Services
    Contact Number: (559) 436-3600


    7173 N. Sharon Ave.
    Fresno, California 93720

    Contact Number: (760) 633-6555


    1092 N. El Camino Real
    Encinitas, CA 92024

    How To Recover Compensation For The Psychological Effects Of Brain Injury

    To secure financial compensation for the associated consequences and costs of brain injury, seek legal assistance from experienced personal injury attorneys. They can determine if there’s negligence involved in your accident, making you eligible for a personal injury claim against the at-fault party.

    If you have a valid case, your injury lawyers will help you build a solid claim that can prove the extent of your injuries and the value of the compensation you deserve. This amount reflects all the current and future expenses you have incurred due to the accident, including medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and lost wages.

    In addition to these economic damages, your brain injury attorneys must demonstrate the full impact of the injuries on your daily life, work, and relationships. People may only think about the physical symptoms of brain injury and the costs associated with medical care. However, they may fail to realize how far-reaching the injury can inflict on the victim.

    When evaluating the total compensation to recover for TBIs, your legal counsel will assess the non-economic losses, including pain and suffering. Often, these incur a higher financial loss than the injury’s immediate outcome. The psychological consequences of a TBI fall into this category of compensatory damages, which is more difficult to calculate because they’re intangible and more subjective.

    Only skilled personal injury lawyers can gather the necessary evidence to accurately show how your TBI affected your life in all possible aspects. They will prove your entitlement to compensation by collecting valuable documents, such as notes from your therapist, testimonies from your family and friends, and your journal.

    Types Of Accidents That Cause Brain Injury

    Accidents involving blows or jolts to the head are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries. These also include incidents that lead to penetrating injuries due to a sharp object piercing the skull. Some examples are:

    Workplace Accident causing brain injury to a worker

    • Car collisions – Motor vehicle accidents are the third leading cause of TBI among people of all ages. The force of impact can lead to concussions, contusions, and other closed-brain injuries. Shrapnels or other sharp objects from the collision could also cause penetrating head trauma.
    • Slip-and-falls – When a victim slips or trips and falls, they are likely to hit their head on the ground or another hard object. They may faint or experience confusion right after, which are classic symptoms of a brain injury.
    • Sports & recreational activity injuries – Contact sports like boxing, hockey, and football carry a high risk of head injuries. Similarly, skiing and snowboarding are especially dangerous as they involve high speeds. That’s why helmets are a crucial part of the safety gear for these activities.
    • Workplace accidents – Individuals are at a higher risk of TBI in certain occupations, like construction, mining, and manufacturing. They might get into accidents involving falling from ladders, scaffolding, roofs, or other high places. They might also get struck by falling objects, causing blunt force trauma to head.
    • Drowning & near-drowning incidents – Oxygen deprivation can also cause brain damage, which could lead to long-term psychological effects and disabilities. This situation commonly arises from drowning or nearly drowning in boating accidents and swimming pool incidents.

    If these accidents are due to someone else’s negligence, the victim may be eligible to claim compensation for their brain injury and the effects we mentioned above. Contact an experienced brain injury lawyer to know what you’re entitled to.

    Speak With The Top-Rated California Brain Injury Law Firm That Cares

    If you or a loved one sustains a brain injury from car accidents, slip-and-falls, workplace incidents, or any other forms of accidents, the resulting psychological issues can be devastating. You are likely suffering not just from physical pain but also from neuropsychological impairments and mental illnesses.

    You shouldn’t have to pay for the financial and emotional costs of an accident that was someone else’s fault. However, having access to varied healthcare options and treatments can be a struggle without a settlement. You deserve assistance from our personal injury attorneys, led by the esteemed Arash Khorsandi, Esq., to help secure the compensation you deserve.

    Call Arash Law at (888) 488-1391 or complete our “Do I Have a Case?” form to discuss your options and how we can help you in a free, no-obligation consultation.

    You May Be Entitled to Compensation
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    DISCLAIMER: Information provided on this blog is not formal legal advice. It is generic legal information. Under no circumstances should the information on this page be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal action. Always obtain a free and confidential case evaluation from a reputable attorney near you if you think you might have a personal injury lawsuit.

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