A mention of "traumatic brain injury" might prompt most San Jose residents to conjure up images of people in a vegetative or comatose state. That may be because the inclusion of "traumatic" in this term seemingly implies catastrophic results. In reality, many are able to recover from TBIs without experiencing many (or any) of the long-term physical issues one might associate with them. Yet there may be problems that remain that are much more difficult to spot, as they may only manifest themselves as one who has suffered a TBI attempts to resume their normal life.
Cognitive impairments and deficits are among the major issues that TBI victims have to worry about. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association lists cognitive processes as being those related to attention, perception, memory and executive function. Trauma to the brain can damage those nervous system centers that regulate these processes. While not necessarily physical limitations, cognitive deficits nevertheless can impede people from effectively functioning in certain environments, particularly those that require complex thought processes.
The Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center lists the identified problems associated with cognitive deficits to be:
- Difficulty concentration and paying attention
- Problems with processing information correctly
- Difficulty communicating clearly and effectively
- Troubles with retaining information
- Issues with planning, problem-solving and analysis
- Inability to control impulsiveness
Each of these aforementioned issues can make it extremely difficult for one to return to work or even resume their regular roles within their families. Because damage to the brain is irreversible, nothing can be done clinically to correct these issues. Memory exercises can help, but these are ongoing treatment strategies that often require continued management, making injuries that affect cognition exact almost as financially and emotionally costly as any that result in physical limitations.