All of the possible symptoms of a typical traumatic brain injury have the potential to be severely debilitating. But of all the side effects of a TBI, perhaps the most serious and life-changing is reduced cognition. Our ability to think clearly and understand the world around us is one of the most important parts of most people’s self-identity. The sudden loss or reduction of cognition can be devastating.
Cognition is defined as the act of knowing or thinking. Aspects of human cognition include:
- Attention and concentration
- Processing and understanding information
- Planning and organization skills
- Reasoning, problem-solving and decision-making
- Impulse control
We use a mix of these skills every day. An accident that limits a person’s cognitive abilities can prevent him or her from working, raising a family, and living independently. For instance, a damaged ability to pay attention or multitask can make finishing work projects impossible, and make long conversations very difficult.
Meanwhile, the victim may also be dealing with problems processing and/or understanding information. It may take them longer to get what someone is saying to them, or struggle to comprehend something they are reading. Other victims find their TBI has robbed them of the ability to speak clearly. They may have a hard time finding the right word, or may be unable to express their thoughts in an organized manner.
The world can become a confusing, alien place after a TBI. Medical treatment and rehabilitation may be able to help, but many people are permanently disabled by brain trauma. Some head injuries are unavoidable, but others happen because someone acted negligently. Brain injuries caused by negligence should not leave the victim high and dry financially.