Traumatic brain injury effects are the result of a physical injury to the brain. These effects do not stem from a mental illness and can, in some way, be likened to broken bones. Broken bones must be rested and allowed to heal. During the time of healing, the patient must compensate for the injury.
For example, a person with a broken leg cannot run very fast if at all. The broken leg may prevent any kind of self-propelled movement, including not being able to walk. A cast is put on the leg to prevent normal use. Crutches are used to compensate for not being able to use the leg. The crutches, in this instance, are a "substitute" leg.
Traumatic brain injury affects the brain in many ways: memory, cognitive and behavioral. We cannot, however, put a cast on a brain and let it rest. The brain will rest, and that causes a different set of problems for many brain injury victims.
I refer you to Chapter Six of Brain Injury Survivor's Guide: Cycle of Response. The five steps of the Cycle are mental fatigue, confusion, frustration, guilt and depression. The brain simply says, "I'm tired, and I'm not going to do any more work." We all have those times during the day (usually between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m.) when our cognitive functioning drops down a few degrees. A person living with brain injury may experience mental fatigue several times each day.
Mental fatigue affects memory. Memory affects cognitive functioning. Reduced cognitive functioning affects behavior. Behavior problems may exhibit themselves as anger, crying, cursing and, even, sexual disinhibition. Think of the Incredible Hulk. In an instant, a mild-mannered guy turns into a menacing, angry monster. For the Incredible Hulk, it was anger that triggered the transformation. For a brain injury victim, the trigger could be mental fatigue.
Mental fatigue has signs. A person loses the ability to focus on concentrate. The attention span shortens considerably. There may be vocal expressions of confusion and frustration. "Why can't I remember...?"
When this happens, it's time to take a break from whatever is being done. Deep breathing, listening to music and taking a walk are three things that can help get away from situations that ignite the Cycle of Response.
Other Articles of Interest:
Brain Injury - What is It?
Sexual Dysfunction and Sexual Performance
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