Cognitive Problems After Traumatic Brain Injury

Dawn Neumann, PhD and Anthony Lequerica, PhD, Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center
Cognitive Problems After Traumatic Brain Injury

What is cognition?

Cognition is the act of knowing or thinking. It includes the ability to choose, understand, remember and use information. Cognition includes:

  • Attention and concentration.
  • Processing and understanding information.
  • Memory.
  • Communication.
  • Planning, organizing, and assembling.
  • Reasoning, problem-solving, decision-making, and judgment.
  • Controlling impulses and desires and being patient.

How does TBI affect cognition and what can be done about it?

After a TBI it is common for people to have problems with attention, concentration, speech and language, learning and memory, reasoning, planning and problem-solving.

Attention and concentration problems

A person with TBI may be unable to focus, pay attention, or attend to more than one thing at a time. This may result in:

  • Restlessness and being easily distracted.
  • Difficulty finishing a project or working on more than one task at a time.
  • Problems carrying on long conversations or sitting still for long periods of time.

Since attention skills are considered a “building block” of higher level skills (such as memory and reasoning), people with attention or concentration problems often show signs of other cognitive problems as well.

What can be done to improve attention and concentration?

  • Decrease the distractions. For example, work in a quiet room.
  • Focus on one task at a time.
  • Begin practicing attention skills on simple, yet practical activities (such as reading a paragraph or adding numbers) in a quiet room. Gradually make the tasks harder (read a short story or balance a checkbook) or work in a more noisy environment.
  • Take breaks when you get tired.

Problems with processing and understanding information

After brain injury, a person’s ability to process and understand information often slows down, resulting in the following problems:

  • Taking longer to grasp what others are saying.
  • Taking more time to understand and follow directions.
  • Having trouble following television shows, movies, etc.
  • Taking longer to read and understand written information including books, newspapers or magazines.
  • Being slower to react. This is especially important for driving, which may become unsafe if the person cannot react fast enough to stop signs, traffic lights or other warning signs. Individuals with TBI should not drive until their visual skills and reaction time have been tested by a specialist.
  • Being slower to carry out physical tasks, including routine activities like getting dressed or cooking.

What can be done to improve the ability to process and understand information?

  • Place your full attention on what you are trying to understand. Decrease distractions.
  • Allow more time to think about the information before moving on.
  • Re-read information as needed. Take notes and summarize in your own words.
  • If needed, ask people to repeat themselves, to say something in a different way, or to speak slower. Repeat what you just heard to make sure you understood it correctly.

Language and communication problems

Communication problems can cause persons with TBI to have difficulty understanding and expressing information in some of the following ways:

  • Difficulty thinking of the right word.
  • Trouble starting or following conversations or understanding what others say.
  • Rambling or getting off topic easily.
  • Difficulty with more complex language skills, such as expressing thoughts in an organized manner.
  • Trouble communicating thoughts and feelings using facial expressions, tone of voice and body language (non-verbal communication).
  • Having problems reading others’ emotions and not responding appropriately to another person’s feelings or to the social situation.
  • Misunderstanding jokes or sarcasm.

What can be done to improve language and communication?

Work with a speech therapist to identify areas that need work. Communication problems can keep improving for a long time after the injury.

How family members can help:

  • Use kind words and a gentle tone of voice. Be careful not to “talk down” to the person.
  • When talking with the injured person, ask every so often if he or she understands what you are saying, or ask the person a question to determine if he or she understood what you said.
  • Do not speak too fast or say too much at once.
  • Develop a signal (like raising a finger) that will let the injured person know when he or she has gotten off topic. Practice this ahead of time. If signals don’t work, try saying “We were talking about…”
  • Limit conversations to one person at a time.

Problems learning and remembering new information

  • Persons with TBI may have trouble learning and remembering new information and events.
  • They may have difficulty remembering events that happened several weeks or months before the injury (although this often comes back over time). Persons with TBI are usually able to remember events that happened long ago.
  • They may have problems remembering entire events or conversations. Therefore, the mind tries to “fill in the gaps” of missing information and recalls things that did not actually happen. Sometimes bits and pieces from several situ¬ations are remembered as one event. These false memories are not lies.

What can be done to improve memory problems?

  • Put together a structured routine of daily tasks and activities.
  • Be organized and have a set location for keeping things.
  • Learn to use memory aids such as memory notebooks, calendars, daily schedules, daily task lists, computer reminder programs and cue cards.
  • Devote time and attention to review and practice new information often.
  • Be well rested and try to reduce anxiety as much as possible.
  • Speak with your doctor about how medications may affect your memory.

Planning and Organization Problems

  • Persons with TBI may have difficulty planning their day and scheduling appointments.
  • They may have trouble with tasks that require multiple steps done in a particular order, such as laundry or cooking.

What can be done to improve planning and organization?

  • Make a list of things that need to be done and when. List them in order of what should be done first.
  • Break down activities into smaller steps.
  • When figuring out what steps you need to do first to complete an activity, think of the end goal and work backwards.

Problems with reasoning, problem-solving and judgment

  • Individuals with TBI may have difficulty recognizing when there is a problem, which is the first step in problem-solving.
  • They may have trouble analyzing information or changing the way they are thinking (being flexible).
  • When solving problems, they may have difficulty deciding the best solution, or get stuck on one solution and not consider other, better options.
  • They may make quick decisions without thinking about the consequences, or not use the best judgment.

What can be done to improve reasoning and problem-solving?

  • A speech therapist or psychologist experienced in cognitive rehabilitation can teach an organized approach for daily problem-solving.
  • Work through a step-by-step problem-solving strategy in writing: define the problem; brain¬storm possible solutions; list the pros and cons of each solution; pick a solution to try; evalu¬ate the success of the solution; and try another solution if the first one doesn’t work.

Inappropriate, embarrassing or impulsive behavior

Individuals with brain injuries may lack self-control and self-awareness, and as a result they may behave inappropriately or impulsively (without thinking it through) in social situations.

  • They may deny they have cognitive problems, even if these are obvious to others.
  • They may say hurtful or insensitive things, act out of place, or behave in inconsiderate ways.
  • They may lack awareness of social boundaries and others’ feelings, such as being too personal with people they don’t know well or not realizing when they have made someone uncomfortable.

What causes it?

  • Impulsive and socially inappropriate behavior results from decreased reasoning abilities and lack of control. The injured person may not reason that “If I say or do this, something bad is going to happen.”
  • Self-awareness requires complex thinking skills that are often weakened after brain injury.

What can be done about it?

Things family members can do:

  • Think ahead about situations that might bring about poor judgment.
  • Give realistic, supportive feedback as you observe inappropriate behavior.
  • Provide clear expectations for desirable behavior before events.
  • Plan and rehearse social interactions so they will be predictable and consistent.
  • Establish verbal and non-verbal cues to signal the person to “stop and think.” For example, you could hold up your hand to signal “stop,” shake your head “no,” or say a special word you have both agreed on. Practice this ahead of time.
  • If undesired behavior occurs, stop whatever activity you are doing. For example, if you are at the mall, return home immediately.

Cognitive outcome/recovery and rehabilitation

Cognition is usually evaluated by a neuropsychologist. Since there are many factors that can affect how someone will improve cognitively, it is very difficult to predict how much someone will recover. With practice, cognitive problems usually improve to some degree.

Cognitive rehabilitation is therapy to improve cognitive skills and has two main approaches, remediation and compensation:

  • Remediation focuses on improving skills that have been lost or impaired.
  • Compensation helps you learn to use different ways to achieve a goal.

Discuss your concerns with your physician or treatment provider.

You should discuss any questions or concerns you have with a physiatrist (rehabilitation specialist) or the rehabilitation team. It is important to mention new problems as they develop. New problems could be the result of medication or require further evaluation.

Recommended reading

Posted on BrainLine March 25, 2010. Reviewed July 26, 2018.

Cognitive Problems after TBI was developed by Dawn Neumann, PhD and Anthony Lequerica, PhD, in collaboration with the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center. Portions of this document were adapted from materials developed by the Rocky Mountain Regional Brain Injury System, the UAB TBI Model System, the Mayo Clinic TBI Model System, the New York TBI Model System, and from Picking up the Pieces after TBI: A Guide for Family Members, by Angelle M. Sander, PhD, Baylor College of Medicine (2002). Copyright © 2010 by University of Washington/MSKTC. 

Please check the MSKTC site for any recent updates on this article.

Comments (55)

I can't believe this website has been here all this time and I never ran into it. Some much information that I had to walk away for a little bit, but I'll be reading more each day. Anyway one of the things that I wonder about is that I've been diagnosis with bipolar disorder and I'm wonder if that's a misdiagnosis or more likely a result of the injury. The accident happened when I was 29 and I never had a history of mental illness until after the accident. Sure there were ups and downs but not to the degree I had in the following years. Now I take an anti seizure, anti anxiety and respirone to control paranoia. After reading the information on this website definitely going to have a few doctors look more closely at my case management. Of course going to remain on my present meds :p but I'm curious to find out how much is contacted here and if there is more I can do to improve my cognitive ability.

Thank you for sharing I have found my people. You all are Mental Warriors and I am so thankful for sharing. Thank you Thank you Thank you I am so great full for my following experiences:

When I was 5 years old I fell out of a tree house, hospitalized with concussion and broken left wrist.
When I was 13 I wiped out on a skateboard going 30 – 40 mph trying to break a speed record, hospitalized with a concussion
When I was 16 I broke my jaw in baseball taking a line drive hit from the pitching mound back to my right jaw, hospitalized with a concussion and broken jaw in two places.

Brain Injuries
When I was 4 years old I fell directly on the basement floor on my head from a monkey bar. Only fell a few feet guess I was warming up.
At 5, I went head first into a glass front door, hospitalized with several stitches in back of my neck.
At 7 years old on my bike I ran into a car, went to doctor with bleeding tong and was told to eat nothing but jello and broth for 2 weeks.
At 9 years old, I had a PTSD incident
At 14 years old I had debilitating migraines and doctors could not find anything.
When I was 48, I was in a car accident (totaled car) with whiplash

Played HS and College Football

I have had memory problems, processing problems, comprehension issues, migraines and headaches my whole life. I

I have been diagnosed with Neuropathy, Neuro Fatigue, Digentitive Disk Disease, Depression, insomnia, Tinnitus, Sleep Apnea, Bi Polar, Chronic pain and fatigue, Roasa, IBS, RA, Migraines, Digenitive Disk Disease, Hiatal Hernia, GERD, acid reflux, tarsal tunnel syndrome, social isolation, and entering Parkinson’s with stiff muscels and joints, internal shaking,

At 55 I am jobless, broke and trying to survive. In 2015 I started eating clean, meditating, affirmations, exercise (lost 80 lbs.) but nothing working so far.

Eat a plant exclusive lifestyle
Read High Performance Habits (this does help but I have lost steam which I know you understand)
Sell stuff to pay rent
Start Walking in am
Check out app Brain HQ
Get approved for disability
Create Web Page

Love you all thoughts and prayers

I'm 4.5 years post my brain injury: swelling of the brain, seizures, global damage affecting all areas of my life. The official term is encephalopathy, I think.

I've been doing well, using helping tools but in the last six months, my family and I have noticed a dramatic decrease in long-term and especially short-term/current memory abilities. Have any studies/research determined that brain damage can worsen with age? With anything else?

I was tested for seizures and dementia and both came back negative but I forget what I did this morning, yesterday, going to my daughter's graduation and Disneyland in late June. I have absolutely no memory of being there.

Up to about 4 years post-coma, I had both long and short-term memory problems but not nearly as bad as now.

I appreciate ANY help!

Thank you in advance,
Jennifer Kerber

Hi everyone,

I wanted to ask what I can do, where I can go, or who to talk to.

I suffered an accident when I was a child with my mother in the same car. All I can remember was we were driving home and the next thing the windows shattered. My mom called someone to tow the car and we didn't go to the hospital. I had bumped my head and thought little of it, my injury healed. Ever since then, I've had problems, -- making friends, keeping a girlfriend, interacting with my family, focusing on one task. I've had it rough. By Gods grace, I'm still alive. In 2014, I was involved in another accident, a car almost hit me at some club. I just remember jumping over the car, barely surviving.

Where can I go for help?

I have bicycle accident last September during our steam engines days in my hometown all I remember is riding the bike and the next thing I knew I was heading in the ambulance to the hospital. Now I can't remembering anything I do during the day or who I talk to my short term memory is gone and seems nobody understands please help with information or books I can read to help me understand or any resource in southeast mn close to Rochester mn as groups or resources and people to talk to and living enviroments Im raising my nine year old daughter that witnessed the accident .

I took a swan dive and landed on concrete to get my TBI. I didn't even realize how bad my mind was until a few years ago (about 10 years after the accident, when the seizures became noticeable). People just assumed I was a kid with a poor attention span who didn't react well to others. After very extensive research, I know now how complicated things really are. As much as I wish I could go back to being ignorant and thinking I'm just vapid, it's nice to know there is some kind of explanation for my memory, emotional, and other cognitive problems. And I'm both happy I'm not alone in this, and sad that others are suffering as well (likely worse than I am).

Ex-husband, my daughter's dad has a TBI from a fall (human cannonball) at a fairly high speed while riding his bike. He has some mobility on his right side (toes & hand) and nothing else. He appears to be able to comprehend simple yes/no questions. Still in ICU. 16-20 lesions on CT various sizes and locations. Some midline shift. Failed extubation yesterday: docs are trying again today. Trach and jpeg to follow. Patient is 59. If anyone has had similar experience; I would appreciate info (what to expect) in acute care setting; assessments, near-term and long term. Thanks
My brother is 46 and jas TBI from a car accident wjen he was 20. Iam javing so much problems. He is now in wheel chair, has been wearimg brace since the accident and is also wearing a helmet and uses a walker. He is very abusive and the things he says are very hurtful. He lives with caregiver and her family but, it is getting very difficult for them to help him. Can someone pls help
My brain takes a sec. To focus and realize what I'm looking at. ,it alsolost All memory after a hit on my head. Now it doesn't recognise sounds..takes a month n. To know what I'm hearing.
It's very difficult and quite painful to watch your adult child go through this. In fact, someone in the medical profession told her she was beautiful and they would have never guessed; as they were doing her lab draws. Then my daughter, without a filter responds, "What? You mean you have to be F'n' ugly to have a brain injury!" 😳 The worries are endless. I'm concerned about her safety, because she has no filter when something alarms her. Even close family judges her, like it's a behavior thing and they seem to have quickly forgot that these were not issues prior. She may say things that are appropriate for the situation, but certainly not appropriate for the audience. We all get frustrated and rightfully so, but you control your responses. Many TBI victims do not have that ability. Our relationship roles have changed so much. I went from having an independent daughter who took action, to a child needing constant oversite and external regulation. I'm her memory, her monitor, her reminder, as well as taxi, counselor, judgment, comforter, and so much more. She should be finishing her second year of college and poised to launch into the adult world, just like her 3 older siblings did. For now, we are in delay mode. She has little emotion other than the fear response and I find myself crying for her. Then, there is the battle of insurance; which is a story within itself. With all that said, it's the blessing that she survived and is doing as well as she is in the middle of this very long horrible dream.
Hello my name is Alan I believe that a brain injury is cumulative.I was always doing things that I shouldn't have even at a young age. before the age of two I had broken my collarbone. I used to get stitches every single year. in 1992 I had a traumatic injury to my brainI was disabled for four years and was told that I would never return to work. I was told that I would have to have all the vertebrae in my neck fused and partially my back to fused.I was told that I would have been to wind up in a wheelchair. that inspired me to go back to school get my degree in electronics and eventually find a job as a field service engineer. I worked for 20 years and had no problems. in 2010 I was working installing intelligent GPS systems in fleet vehicles and fell out of the door of a semi truck. I fell back hit my head and my back on the open door hard enough to break a rib and cause a traumatic brain injury. dangerous and very mild and the fall was only 5 feet. It took me years to understand how I can be so greatly injured after such a small fall. seems to have a photographic memory now no longer possess I used to be an expert at math and be faster than an individual on a calculator at making simple calculations. for several years I took large doses of d antispasmodic and antispasmodic medications these medications gave me a foggy mentality. the hydrocodon softened my bones and my teeth are now falling out. I had over 75 diagnose conditions all the forts we're related to one small injury. it doesn't matter how large or small the brain injury is a person can suffer a large degree post-traumatic concussive injuriesI suffer from reduced cognitive abilities, reduced inability to concentrate, aphasia, chronic fatigue, chronic pain syndrome, a greatly reduced speed in cognition, reduced IQ, greatly reduced libido, clinical depression, and a fear of impending doom to name a few symptoms. Even though I suffer from these symptoms and more, I do believe they can be overcome. I was able to overcome my injuries in 1992. I believe that I can do this again, and I believe that all of you may as well. the medical society seems to be ill equipped to deal with post concussive syndrome, but our minds can overcome all. I no longer listen to what the doctor say I can't do and focus on what I can do. even though those around this can cheer us on it is up to us to decide how far we may go. I have used a cane for the last six years my doctor that's tried on many occasions to prescribe me a walker. my plan to walk without a cane and to ride a bike in the future I don't know how long it will take but I will and even though no one will hire me I will return to work even if I have to start my own business. no one can tell me what I can or can't do it's up to me as it is up to you. Godspeed and good health

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You have helped me to identify some of the issues I have been feeling but unable to sort out.

I wish you well. J

I have been reading through all of the comments and yours has really inspired me. I am a licensed electrician and a class A CDL driver. I received my head injury when a case of liquids fell out of the back of my truck hitting me on the head. It has really changed my life to where I just gave up. I did not think things were going to get better but I have a little hope now. Like you I really don't believe anyone will hire me even if I get better but I need to concentrate on getting better then start that battle. I also walk with a cane now and my PT wants me to have a walker. It really sucks that I educated myself and climbed the chain to get where I was just to get knocked back down to learn it all over again but I am willing to tackle it now so I can get back on my feet to continue on with life. Thank You.

Thanks for sharing all that! I just wanted to recommend a resource for you. It’s the Department of Rehab in your state! They can really help you get back to work after a TBI. Good luck!

I have a tbi from getting hit by a semi and i have severe cognitive disorders and i have done therapy for 21yrs and used positive people to help me process. I don't talk really good but i have a story

You all can write. I am just getting to know someone who cannot read or write . He remembers things almost photographically. He has a very limited vocab. People assume he is on drugs. He is highly intelligent but unable to express properly. He had a traumatic brain injury in a lacrosse game, was resuscitated 3 times, and woke from a coma 2 months later, at 13, and even now at 40 cannot formulate sentences, etc. He has a very high IQ, but is unable to use it.

I had a jerk response to your description of your new friend, he can, I believe -use his hi IQ, or you wouldn't be aware of it.. ugh, I don't know how to explain but you are a good student, he is teaching you many great lessons about life. keep sharing, be his voice ...

My son has most of the same symptoms from a motorcycle accident. I can say for certain that your girlfriend needs a reality check and needs to thank the Lord that you are here and can have any relationship with your son. Your brain has had massive injuries that are probably still healing and you need love and support. If you would like to speak with me or my son for support, you can email me your contact info. Tdrawdy

2013, landed on left side of helmet after hitting side of car turning left in front of me. I was thrown from the motorcycle, doing 30, went maybe 12 feet up in air, landed in street. Had a daydream about floating down a silver river, all happy, beautiful...then a voice said if I kept going, I wouldn't be able to come back. Opened my eyes, and the girl that wrecked me was looking down at me. I didn't try to get up, wasn't sure how bad I was hurt. Called my girlfriend on cell phone and told her I was in wreck. She showed up about the same time as ambulance, wasn't far from home. I thought I was fine, but I couldn't understand why the girl turned left in front of me like that...kept asking why she did that over and over, many times. Got a CT scan and X-rays a the ER. Doctor said I was fine, and told me to take the day off of work. I was working as an RN in an ICU, had been an RN for 20 years. Went home, and don't really remember much for a week..maybe more? Girlfriend said I seemed ok at first, slept for almost 3 days, only getting up to use bathroom. It is mostly just darkness to me, that time, There are bits and pieces, but I rely on my girlfriend to tell me how I was acting. She knew something was wrong with me when I started hallucinating, hearing and seeing things that weren't there, saying strange things...she was afraid to call an ambulance because she thought I would fight them and get hurt worse. Finally, after a few days, she talked me into going to see my doctor. I was sent to a neurologist, optometrist, (left pupil anisocorea), neuropsychologist, endocrinologist, occupational therapy, speech therapy, foot doctor, (had multiple fractures of left foot), knee doctor, shoulder doctor, (torn meniscus, rotator cuff injury), ophthalmology ended up doing surgery on my right eye for a displaced intraocular lense. Anyway, I had to have a lot of stuff done, and I still have frequent migraines, cognitive problems, and visual working memory deficit, (don't remember what I see). I was never allowed to go back to work, and lost my job, had to go on food stamps, long term disability insurance, ( a nightmare), finally was a approved for 100% SSDI, because my doctors didn't think I could work at ANY job that required working regular hours. So, now it is three and a half years later, and my court case with the pizza delivery driver is still pending. I nearly lost my home, I can't stand florescent lighting or looking at computer screens for very long. My balance is lousy, and I have to wear prism glasses because of a midline shift in my brain. I have to take multiple medications, and testosterone replacement, because my pituitary gland was damaged. I have had three surgeries, one on my eye, one on my knee, and one on my shoulder. People say I seem fine, but then after they spend some time with me, they start to notice that I am off a bit...can't remember directions, can't understand things, can't multitask, slow reactions. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself, and cry when no one is around, because my life is so far away from what I wanted it to be, and I feel helpless. I try not to be sad though, because there are a lot of people in the world that are far worse off than I am, and I have people around me that still love me, even though I am not quite who I was. I hope to sell my house and move to the country someday, perhaps learn to make furniture in a little shop, or try to learn blacksmithing. I like to make things, but I tire easily, and sometimes cannot function because of the pain in my head, and ringing in my ears. If I could do something at my own pace, maybe sell some things, if they turn out nice, that could keep me busy. My main goals are to never give up hope, keep trying, doing the best I can to improve myself, not dwell upon what might have been, play the cards I've been dealt, to love, and to be loved.

I've had my TBI since February 19, 2010. I was Active Duty Army 21 bravo. So long story short I was involved on the 19th of February in an IRAM attack that killed 3 people left 20 wounded in Al Amarah Provence Iraq. The force of the blast was enough to throw a then 175 lb Soldier with 65 plus pounds of gear and a 7.8 lb weapon with 210 55.6mm rounds and my water source about 15 feet into a 12 ft tall concrete T wall barrier hard enough to crack my kevlar and knock me out for a good 6 hours.I think the blast wave was what did the most damage as the medic said the kevlar helmet saved my life.I Have memory problems missing bits and pieces of a lot of my life. I have problems understanding and comprehending what people say. When I go to speak a simple sentence that part in my head that tells me that's what I want to say works fine until the words leave my mouth and it comes out wrong. I have this ringing that comes and goes in my right ear that gets so bad sometimes I get dizzy and nauseous and have to go sit down usually ending in a migraine headache.My moods are shifty if best. I get angry easily at what people say to me and sometimes I misunderstand what they say to me. My child's mother says I'm not caring and sensitive enough and always tells me I'm too slow for her. Why does she have to remind a full grown man simple things? I'm like taking care of another child and I have no sense of even being romantic anymore. I've lost my sex drive and we make love a minimal of maybe once a week and she wants it everyday. I get so upset with how I am now. It's all I think about and I lose track of the small things that make my girlfriend happy. I feel like a child that's looking out behind a window with bars and seeing everybody else play at recess and I'm stuck behind the bars and will never get to be normal like them. How do I live a normal life after this? She says I move painfully slow with everything I do and I just make excuses when I try to tell her I don't understood normal things I used to get. She thinks I do it on purpose. I'm not. How do I have a normal relationship again? I'm 36 years old and feel so drained about all of this I feel like an old man. Then I think what it's going to be like when I am an old man? Am I going to get worse and end up in a home like my dad? I just don't know anymore. A concerned and Heartbroken Soldier

Cognitive problems after brain injury. This seems to be an interesting topic for myself in recent years. I am 42 years old and live a very traumatic lifestyle. My first trauma was at conception. Grandfather kicked mom while she was pregnant with me. Then was recently told of a concussion received at about age 4 or 5 where I fell off a tree at about 20 feet above ground landing on the my side including my head. Over the years as I grew up I experienced more concussions however the most significant being attacked by unknown offenders where they continuously beat the back of my head and neck areas. I walked away from that incident but the world was very different after that. I went to doctor after doctor only to be told there was nothing wrong with me. I am not sure why I am posting all this information, perhaps out of frustration and concern for my current situation. I started my education again about two years ago at my local community college and started the notice how much my injuries were affecting my functioning. Currently, I am re-evaluating my educational goals because I am a computer science major and the high level of mathematics and computer languages seem to be an everyday struggle. Sometimes I have iritis flare up in one eye or the other, yesterday my left eye flared up and this is unusual because I had a flare already during midterms of my spring semester. Usually it happens once in one eye this is the second this year with heavier aggression and anger symptoms. I am waiting to see a doctor about this so hopefully all is well. I think this time I am on the verge of giving up. I really dislike placing burdens on others. My problem is seemingly that there does not seem to be any way out of this. I also seem to be wasting too much money having to retake classes that I fail in. I am thinking these injuries may have impacted my educational functioning.

I had my traumatic brain injury at age 20, year of 1995. It's been quite some time. The past 10 years I've been trying to figure out what was wrong with me. Seeing providers after provider that don't listen or don't believe. I have said to my husband that I feel like I have dementia. He just laughed. Why? Lately my moods have changed to mean or sad. I can't even stand myself most of the time. Then in my head I feel I've had enough...

I am 32 years old and had a TBI about 18 years ago, while playing cricket in school. I was in Class 9th then. I was in coma for almost 22 days and then in the hospital for over a month. Post the TBI, I lost ability to walk properly since it affected both my lower limbs primarily and to a certain extent caused a lack of strength in my upper limbs, but I am able to manage with that. Fortunately nothing was affected in terms of my cognitive abilities apart from a few differences in my emotional response to certain situations. And I am really thankful to my parents and my family (including relatives) who have been there with me acting as my support. I know how it feels like having survived such an accident. Well, I would say Depression, Deep Anxiety and Disordered Life are the three D's that come along with a TBI. I still am unable to walk properly and lately felt a few more difficulties cropping up in my lower limbs but I am trying to manage living with them. I know and have realized that unless a miracle is on the way, nobody other than me can change my life, yet any advice or suggestions for improvement are welcome.

I barely have the words for what I'm dealing with, It feels all too often like I'm lying about how I feel and people don't believe that I am suffering from this invisible torture device and it's now been since July 22, 2011, the day my life change completely !!!  I can deal with most of the crap that comes with this like the headaches, the speech, the memory, the equilibrium, the forgetfulness and things like losing memory or portions, forgetting to call a customer, everything was affected along with a very serious case of anxiety and there are many times I don't want to leave my house.  Again my problem, is trying to convince WSIB as well as other benefit providers that I have a problem and it's debilitating , I can't keep a job, I can't keep focus for more than 30 minutes at a time.   Like being a prisoner on your own mind.

Some of the same problems. Mine happened in 2011. Im unable to work. Can't qualify for disability. Lost my house! Had to move in with my parents! Still No income and No help.
I cry most waking moments of my life. Death would be better!!! All least it's final

You described very well how I feel at this time. Thank you for putting it into words.


You're testimony almost mirrors mine. I also suffered a severe head injury from an auto accident. I was in a coma for 45 days. I have cognitive problems, mostly in the area of memory and recognition. Thank you for sharing!

Mom, who turned 85 yesterday, was perfectly healthy, active, read books, volunteered, counted her church's money, etc.  Then she had a concussion in her home 5-1/2 months ago.  Doctors never told us the severity of her brain injury on the left side of her brain, but her severe headache and blood in the brain went away in two weeks.  She also injured her stomach in that fall and had surgery after her concussion healed.  However, since then she has been "going downhill" cognitively. She did okay but not good in a nursing home rehab but then wanted to go home.  She is a very stubborn lady anyway so all of these problems are exaggerated by her unwillingness to let us help her.  Not sure if her memory malfunction and other cognitive problems are from head trauma or anesthesia from surgery?  Do the elderly really recover from this, especially those who do not want help.  I have talked to her about a nursing home and applying for Medicaid but she just gets mad at me.  Is there any hope to get my mom back.  Her mother lived to be 100 with no health problems.  Thanks

I am a 41 year old female who has post concussion syndrome.  My accident was in July of 2015 as I tripped and hit my head off concrete in our yard.  Talk about turning my life upside down.  I used to work in a high stress and fast pace environment which involved a great deal of computer use and driving.  Initially after my accident, I thought I'd be back to work in a week.  Wrong!!!  I had vertigo, nausea, headaches, insomnia, and I was exhausted after basic simple tasks.  In time I was diagnosed with PCS and continue to make progress daily.  The physio helped with the vertigo and balance issues thereafter.  I have also made progress in that the nausea is rare and the headaches are now manageable.  The sleep has also improved.  The key is not to overdo it.  You need to learn what your body is ready for and capable of and this is can be different for everybody.  Be self aware, learn what you can manage and do not overdo it.  Exercise is important even if it is simple like walking or swimming as high intensity exercises are still a challenge for me.    I have made huge gains since last July and I have an amazing occupational therapist.  My biggest issues now are driving, computer use, and managing stress.  The driving and computer use continue to improve as time goes on and with a great deal of practice without overdoing it.  I am learning new tools for my tool box all the time to manage my stress.  Meditation has been a God send although I must admit it is not something I ever pictured myself doing.  My neck and visual system seem to be key factors in my outstanding symptoms.  I am hopeful that a return to work may be possible in the fall of 2016 however I am also terrified as the amount of computer use, driving, and the amount of stress at work is far higher than what I know I am capable of managing at this time.  I am hopeful this will get better in time but I cannot help but think what else I am going to do with my life if these basic things do not get to where they need to be.  Then I wonder, maybe this is God's way of telling me I need to be on a different path in life.  Over the past year,  I have learned to become more self aware, more empathetic to the needs of others, I have learned to be more mindful and present with my children and others, and I have learned to be thankful and appreciative for the simple things in life.  Although things are still rough at times, I am actually thankful I have had the last year to learn so many new things. I am also thankful I had insurance which has allowed me to survive financially and access good supports.  I cannot imagine how difficult it is for those out there who are placed in this type of situation without supports.  They wonder why people get depressed in these situations but once you live it, you understand.   For others who are out there suffering please know you are not crazy, try and focus on the positive, and ensure you seek supports needed that are available for you to move forward.  Keep the faith. 

I think the courage and bravery off the people who shared their stories here is amazing: you are all winners just for getting up today and trying. Recovery for me is an action word: I have had not just one brain injury -- but three.  Two caused by exposure to an IED serving this country -- and one related to a car accident.  The person I was prior to this has changed -- but in many ways I think those changes have been for the better. I am more cautious before I speak, kinder and more empathic to the problems and concerns of others, less likely to engage in politics in the work place (I don't have the band-width anymore to deal with it).  I engage in a life-style that is much healthier than before, more self-aware of myself and how my actions impact others than before.  I can't work the hours tht I used to work before -- and work=life balance, getting enough sleep, making sure I stay connected to famly and friends, having a meditation/mindfulness aspect to my spiritual practice, having hobbies that I enjoy (have found music is especially important to my recoery), and most of all -- and I know other people here have found this too -- having a sense of humor and forgiving myself for being less than perfect -- and accepting that many aspects of the person I was before have gone.  And still being okay with that inside.  Problems with attention, concentration, memory, problem solving -- all have worked on strategies to overcome.  The final frontier for me remains personal interactions in the workplace in team environments.  Now re-examining my low frustration level tolerance -- and working with my doctor on strategies that set me up for success.  Hope what I'm sharing here helps others -- a key part of my recovery I've found is realizing that we are all part of a community -- that we are not alone -- and whenever possible reaching out and helping others helps me to realize we are all in this together. 

While driving in 2009, a lady ran a stop sign and I T-boned her going just under 70mph my seat belt is the only reason I am still alive...the other driver was not so lucky. I have struggled silently ever since with remembering things and sometimes finding the right words. It is getting harder and harder for me to remember things that I read. I used to be able to remember everything and it is starting to get frustrating. Is there a specialist that I should be talking to to try fix this problem? I feel like I am becoming more of a hermit just so people don't notice my struggles ... I need to figure something out. Any help would be so amazingly helpful.

I suffered from a moderately-severe traumatic brain injury in Nov. 2004 when I was 17. I struggle greatly with depression, anxiety, and other emotions, but those are the worst ones. I see all my friends who I've grown up with getting married, buying their own houses, working productively & succeeding in life. Myself on the other hand? I'm stuck in this vicious cycle going up and down in my emotions, and feeling like I'm not quite "on their level"? Like my brain is stuck at age 17, and thats the only way I know how to think? I've made some pretty good decisions in my adult life, despite this, but feel very strongly that those decisions were guided by my HP. The only reason why I've made it this far. A lot of times I feel suicidal. I don't know if I'll ever get better? Do things ever get better? Will my brain ever mature to the age I am? I'll be 29 in October. I feel like I shouldn't feel the way I do. HELP! 

Hello Everybody I had 3 major traumas in my frontal, parietal and occipital lobe.  This tragic event put me in a comma for 8 weeks and underwent many cranial surgeries. Now 12 years later I am  finishing my Bachelor Degree But It has been a long time struggle. Academically I do not perform as I used to it is  harder than ever I worker harder than average individuals. Reading all your post I do not fee along it feels good to know that you guys are also around sharing your post. Anyone has any exercises or advices in improving memorization and writing skills along with learning and processing new information.

I had 4th concussion this summer. There is a book called
"Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything" by
Joshua Foer that is said to be helpful. I have not finished yet. Does your college have a disability services office that could suggest an accomodation? If not, does your area have a Dept of Vocational Services-they may offer concrete suggestions for study techniques. Good luck

The most informative article I have read on here. Thank you so much for sharing it and all the comments that have been added. I'm sure this will help others to cope and move forward. It will also give family and friends a better insight. I wish you ALL the very best with the long journey ahead.

Starting 16 years after my craniotomy, I began to use a cocktail of technology to assist me in grad school. Contact me at: to be let know how I used Dragon NaturallySpeaking!, a PC, Microsoft Word and a Sony digital recorder, in tandem, to re-strengthen my short-term memory.

Hi All-  It's sure is nice to know that there are others who understand these issues and don't think it's just "all in your head" so to speak!  I'm a 50yr old female.  My TBI (and fractured pelvis) occurred 5yrs ago as the result of an automobile accident.  I was out of it for 3 days.  When I came to I didn't remember a thing from the accident.  Spent a month in the hospital and 2wks as an inpatient at a brain injury rehabilitation center.  Followed by about 1 1/2 yrs of out-patient therapy.  I've since returned to work (3yrs now) at a different job.  My employer at the time of the accident terminated me since I couldn't return to work.  Anyway, said new job was going great for about the first 2 1/2 yrs.  Lately however, things have been a struggle.  I was upfront about my TBI during the hiring process so they couldn't claim they weren't aware of it.  The company is very small (under 25 employees).  Organization is poor, communication is lacking, training is nill, if you do manage to get the paperwork you need it's usually incorrect.  The list goes on and on.  I wasn't aware of this disorganization at first, I thought it was just me.  For the first little while I was able to deal with these issues but as of late it's about to drive me crazy!  Like I said earlier, I was upfront about my TBI right from the get go.  If I try to bring up the subject of how stressed I am the boss doesn't want to hear it and just brushes me aside.  I know he think since I look fine that there isn't anything going on and I'm just making it all up.  Other employees have commented and even quit due to the chaos.  Between the obvious chaos, disorganization, and having a TBI on top of it It's a struggle.  During my rehab ADHD was also mentioned.  Doctor appointment this week to figure out what is going on and what to do!  Any pointers, tips, or words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.

23 months since i...stepped off my motorcycle at 70 mph...yes helmet is why im still here....medical says absolutely nothing wrong with me now???? always beyond exhausted..unable to motivate in anyway...will this pass??? any help from other tbi.s much needed!!!!

In 1991, I was pulled into a rotating spindle by my hair. It pulled all of my hair out and my ear off. The rescue team said that I hit the machine with the force of a car hitting a solid wall at 40 miles per hour. I ended up with 83 stitches and a concussion. I have problems with several issues. I cannot remember something someone says to me concerning my work for more than a few seconds. I have to write things down immediately and even then, I get it wrong. If someone says something to me, I usually cannot repeat it back to them. If I read something, I cannot remember the details, names or places, just the basic jist of the story. It is like things go in my ears, but that's where it stops. I forget where I put things and I even forget that I have something and will go out and get it again, only to find it months or years later. I tried to take classes and it was a waste of monies because I couldn't remember or retain the curriculum that was being taught. The classes were in something that I have been doing for years..... People get frustrated with me and then I get frustrated with myself. How can I fix my issues??????

I have had multiple concussion from numerous bmx bike crashes. Then crashes happened as follows 2000 concussion knocked unconscious 2001 concussion never lost consciousness just memory of event 2002 concussion knock unconscious had a seizure. I have had other hard knocks to the head but those are the most significant. It is now 2015 and I am starting to notice certain issue I have. I believe it had come on slowly over the past fifteen years. I have trouble following conversation I am very easily distracted. I misplace things constantly which is tough at work because I am always losing tools. My reading comprehension is not good at all. I was a pretty good high school student, but when I went to college in 2001 my grades fell apart. After reading some of these I am really scared that it's only going to get worse and I'm not going to be able to be the father I want to be. Thanks for reading it feels good just to get it off my chest. Love the thread

What a world to be tapped in.  Par Rehab diagnosed me with a TBI in 2008. I had the accident in 2007.  Initially I thought they (Par Rehab) were playing ticks with me.  I did not trust them ... I did not trust anyone.  I looked at various tests that I just knew were simple and tests that I could perform, but I could not perform them nor figure them out.  I became paranoid because after all, they just wanted my money ... right? ... WRONG. I felt so stupid.  At times even now, I'm afraid to open my mouth for fear that my words would not be so well put together.  Sometimes  the world is so overwhelming that I just have to "unplug".  That means not talking to anyone and not doing anything.  I have one child who is 17 years old now.  She has dealt with this and dealt with me and my forgetfulness for 8 years now.  At one point, I was in fear of losing her.  After receiving calls from the school letting me know that my child was still there waiting for me to pick her up, I had to start setting an alarm so that I could leave work and pick my child up. I never ever want hear the pain in my child's voice saying, "Mommy, you forgot about me".  May God continue to Bless and keep her strong.  When I heard the words from the doctor saying, "You will never be the same again", I thought to myself, "Oh yeah ... that's what you think.  I thought this to myself because I am a fighter (mentally) and I am a believer.  This is my up-bringing ... press your way through.  A lot of times, that mentality works ... sometimes it does not.  I am not where i want to be however, I am a long way from where I was.  I concern myself with myself, my child and my job.  Right now, I do not have the capacity to manage another relationship other than family members who understands when I must go into a shell.  At times I feel so vulnerable.  Yet, I am always thankful.  To the TBI survivors ... Keep on keeping on.  To the TBI care-taker ... get your rest and take your breaks.  It's not easy for either side.  I am grateful for a place to express my feelings.  Thank you.

I am a persons with a TBI traumatic brain injury, and I've accumulated many cognitive issues; preferably in my body. I'm not going to lie, my mind has taken a beating too. Its ben 9 years since my accident, and i spent 6 months in a coma, i woke up 2 weeks after i was sent home from the hospitals. Couldn't do anything on my own after i woke up; couldn't get up (lift out of bed), couldn't talk (trachea was in m throat), couldn't breathe on my own (still on respirator), couldn't use the rest room or bath, or eat (feeding tube). Now i' m better, so to speak, i can't use both of my hands to type because i have tremors in the right side of my body tremors are involuntary movements of the muscle. My vision continuously decreases every year and i' m partially death in my right ear. My immune system is getting worse as i develop new issues to deal with every time i get a summer cold. Right now the allergies i never had before my accident are reeking havoc on my day to day social living. Yet, i face the impulsiveness and don't consider others feeling as much as i should. To be honest with others feels more important and more needed than disclosing sugar coated information. My one love, vocabulary, is the main thing that has survived from my accident. I have always loved words and i have finished 4 stories after my accident. School is a headache though, even when i like learning new thins and gaining knowledge, it has become less and less attainable. I've tried school twice and now I'm talking with an online counselor who I've been giving the run around to, mainly because i fear.

I am a little over 4 yrs dealing with TBI, I was hit by drunk driver.  I don't remember any of it Thank God.After life support was turned off and I came back I don't remember anything but like 4 days later when all the sudden I recognized a friend without anyone telling me. I knew this lady who was my mom kept telling me who was who and coming in to see me. I have tried learning things my 12 yr old child is, things I know I use to know but the next day they disappear, well when it comes to learning like her school work.  I write things down on my calenday a lot.  I did learn to drive again but was put on restrictions like stay within 5 mile radius of home, no expressways or highways, I can deal with that.  I am 57 yrs old and do okay on simple home things but learning well blood pressure goes up when learning some things which is not good, with me before accident I always had very low blood pressure.  I was a busy person, worked since I was 13, this happened on my lunch hr when I worked at hospital as Administrative secretary and did billing.  Never made it back from lunch hr though which was totally unlike me. So with this I have learned when I m concentrating on getting something done I have a one track mind and that is getting it done.  Even when someone says something to me its like they arent even there. Before all this I had child to get ready for school, then work, picking child up after work, home duties, supper, very very busy.  To me the best way I can see it is God was telling me to slow down and take time to smell the flowers :)

I Suffer from a brain injury. My accident happened 19 years ago! I was in a coma for 31 days basically in hospital for about 1 year last 3 months was outpatient but still there all day going through therapy! I was 19 when accident happened.... when I came out of coma I didn't know who I was .... I wanted everyone and everything to stop and just go away wanted to feel normal again! I pushed people away and tired to skate thru therapies And doctors As fast as I could! What I need and trying to say is I did not get the help I needed ... I looking for help now!?!?!?!?

I suffered my injury 12 yrs ago worked hard -thought I was unstoppable -seems like I am-I'm 38 concerned.

Reading these posts I am glad there are people willing to discuss the problems they are having in dealing with TBI. First was in 1978 then in 1983 and was in a coma for 3 days with intracranial bleeding for the last one. Lost some memory, not sure i want to remember some things, but the long term has been inability to follow through on projects, organize, (for which I have lost a couple of jobs), or project a warm environment in relationships. Am now divorced 3rd time and working in a high pressure job in a prison. The prison work seems to be a plus in my ability to reach out to people and still maintain a buffer of protection, but the old problem of organization and follow through is coming back to haunt me. Have had cognitive testing ad nauseam and found to be at a 70% disability. Have many of the same "brain-freeze" moments discussed here and rely on a sense of humor (mine) to get through most days. Fortunately the cat my daughter left me with is a good listener and only expects basics; food, water, clean litter box, and a toy played with every once in awhile. I too did not have any therapy after either of my accidents and did some study and trials of own cognitive therapy. Reading about the brain and its ability to repair in finding new neuropathways has been a great help in many areas of frequent problems. I do not turn away any help others have offered me through learning and pray that many who read this blog/site will take it upon themselves to use self help methods to see how they can benefit.  Your brain knows what it needs and so does your Creator. This I am certain of.

when I read the comment of 20may2010 @9:09am regarding cognitive problems after TBI, especially about losing visualization because of TBI, I felt that the words were coming right out of my mouth.  When I hear people say,"everybody visualizes to some degree ", -I don't see jack. I visualized as a child but since the military  TBI I DO NOT PICTURE ANYTHING!  I would appreciate any suggestions or comments.

My son who is now 26 suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury at the age of 19. He was in a coma for 10 days and in the hospital for 21 days.  He had no rehab or therapy afterwards. He has since been in and out of jail for various charges, including drugs, since the accident.  He seems to be unaware of what is going on with him, basically out of touch with reality. Talking to him today at the jail was like talking to a 19 year old kid. He suffers from migraines and a recent MRI following another car accident he was in showed bleeding on the brain, which the dr. said was "just a concussion".  He is now in jail for probation violation and I don't know how to explain to a judge or attorney what is going on with him. Need some advice?

My son was assaulted almost 3 years ago and suffered a TBI.  He is 38 years old. After 11 months began having seizures.  He takes seizure medication which helps.  My observations as to when he has a seizure is when he has too much going on in his life.  Unfortunately he is unable to do as much as prior to TBI but doesn't see that clearly and becomes depressed..  First because he's had a seizure, and second because  there is a recovery time afterwards that he doesn't want to acknowledge, and so the cycle begins again.  When he gets enough rest (1 to 2 weeks sometimes), he recovers enough to go on with his normal routines of life.  He goes to college and has an 8 year old son and can  function very nicely when he doesn't overdo it.

I am living with a TBI and I have difficulty understanding things in my life, for example, " why are men harassing me and intimidating me and saying things to me to hurt me" Why won't employers give me a chance in a job or position in a job setting" "Why are people making me struggle financially" " Why do men treat me badly" " Why do people say mean things to me" "Why do people play mind games with me" " why won't doctors help me " " Why do I have to call the police on people" "Why do I have to seek an attorney to fight for my rights as a TBI person, " Why do men with money have to take my right to work and make a living for my kids and myself" " WHY" am not able to handle these everyday things in my life !!! " Why do I have to marry anyone to have a good life and not struggle" " Why do I have to feel sick and overly stressed because of men WHY!!!! WHY !!!!!