Personality Changes and Traumatic Brain Injuries

A recent article in NBC News discussed an often-overlooked aspect of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs): dramatic shifts in personality and diminished quality of life. According to the article, many people know that TBIs can cause severe physical problems, like recurring headaches, impaired memory, dizziness, and trouble with balance or walking. However, the personality changes that accompany TBIs tend to be overlooked by the general population. These hidden side effects often are seen only by family members and close friends, and in some cases they’re known only to the victims.

According to the news article, brain injuries can occur in a variety of situations, including accidents, recreational sports, and in certain jobs, such as professional sports or military service. If you or a loved one have suffered a TBI and are experiencing the damaging side effects of personality changes and emotional difficulties, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact the experienced brain injury attorneys at the Walton Law Firm today to discuss your case.

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Real Life Examples of TBIs and Personality Changes
The NBC News article opened with the story of Mac Fedge, a 31-year-old man who survived a head-on car collision in 2001. Due to the accident, he suffered broken bones and a TBI that has changed his personality. According to Fedge, talking about his life before the accident is “like recalling an old friend, now gone.”

Fedge “was a different person in a lot of ways” before the accident, he told NBC News. For instance, he “used to have so much good humor” and he “used to be a leader,” he said. Now, however, the TBI has left Fedge on the sidelines of life. He’s “more inclined to just watch,” he told NBC News, and he now lives with his parents. But that’s not the only change. Indeed, Fedge now experiences serious emotional outbursts, often “flar[ing] up with anger” when he’s tired. Thinking back on his life before the accident, Fedge reflected, “it feels like part of me has disappeared since the accident and . . . one of the toughest aspects of the recovery is trying to find out how to do what I used to be so good at doing, how to do it again.”

Fedge’s story, unfortunately, is the norm rather than the exception. According to Dr. Brent Masel, the national medical director for the Brain Injury Association of America, “for some brain-injury survivors, emotional control is lost.” And those victims are only able to develop “new coping skills to harness their post-injury tempers” through intensive therapy sessions.

In fact, since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan and the subsequent start to the Iraq War, the Department of Defense has reported that more than 260,000 soldiers have been diagnosed with TBIs. Indeed, injured soldiers are among one of the largest groups of persons suffering with TBIs and dealing with the often-overlooked issue of personality changes.

Perhaps due in part to the surge of reported TBIs among members of the armed services, TBIs and their effects on personalities are beginning to make news in popular culture. A recent HBO documentary, “The Crash Reel,” exposes the personality changes associated with TBIs in relation to snowboarding accidents.

What Causes Personality Changes with TBIs?

The answer to this question isn’t a simple one. According to Masel, “the human brain and its connective networks are so intricate,” and there is “no single hub for emotion, no neurological sectors for happiness or pleasure.” However, medical professionals can isolate personality changes to the frontal lobes of the brain, which are responsible for “executive functioning” behaviors such as planning and organizing, but also for filtering impulsive behavior.

When people experience damage to their frontal lobes, doctors know that they “do or say things before they’re thought them out,” according to Masel.

Researchers continue to focus on the effects of TBIs and the severe effects they have on personalities and interpersonal relationships. Have you or a loved one experienced personality changes after experiencing a brain injury? You may be eligible for compensation. Contact the dedicated brain injury lawyers at the Walton Law Firm today to learn more about filing a claim.

Photo Credit: Mikey G Ottawa via Compfight cc

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