Measuring Empathy and Sensitivity to Emotion in Adults Who Had a TBI in Childhood

Measuring Empathy and Sensitivity to Emotion in Adults Who Had a TBI in Childhood

A brief summary of current research.

Sensitivity to Emotion, Empathy and Theory of Mind: Adult Performance Following Childhood TBI

McLellan, T & McKinlay, A. Brain Injury Vol. 27 (9), pp 1032–1037.

In this study, researchers worked with adults who had experienced a traumatic brain injury during childhood to better understand how their TBIs impacted their perception of emotion. The authors found a correlation between severity of injury and sensitivity to emotion – individuals with moderate or severe TBI were less sensitive to emotion than those with mild TBI. The researchers concluded that the deficits associated with a TBI sustained in childhood are long-lasting, and that early intervention to improve emotional sensitivity might also improve the long-term quality of social interactions.

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Posted on BrainLine August 12, 2013.

Comments (6)

Please remember, we are not able to give medical or legal advice. If you have medical concerns, please consult your doctor. All posted comments are the views and opinions of the poster only.

When I was 9, I was hit by a truck passing the school bus I was getting off of. He hit my side, and I slid 20 feet facedown on the pavement. I was lifeflighted from the scene. I'm currently 20, and physically I have no problems from the past other than a slight limp, but emotionally I feel close to nothing. I don't really have a close connection to anyone including my family. I think that this could be what happened to me, but from reading the other people's emotional highs, I wonder if it's something else. Any thoughts would be much appreciated

I was 7 yrs old..had a bike a concussion..they told my mom it was mild ,and fine..but was in hospital 3 days for that. Well now im 40 and wonder why i have trouble with things sometimes...need to see someone probably not sure who yet.? Anyone know?

I was hit by a car at age 10, and just turned 38. Unfortunately my medical care here has been horrible to say the least and cannot even understand the why or how my problems have become and have given up on ever finding out. I am a roller coaster of emotions and very empathetic which I would give anything to change because like yourself I to am exhausted being this way.

I suffered a TBI in 2000 from a car accident and it changed my emotions to where I have not cried in 15 years. I have teared up a few times but have not had a good cry and I can say it is mentally exhausting!!! I have never read anything saying where people say they don't have emotions and that's where I am and have a little anxiety wondering when and what is going to cause me to have a break down!!!

Empathy and sympathy are functions of (normal) communication (normal) hearing/listening, and (normal) use of the imagination. Issues such as empathy and sympathy are associated with paying attention, short-term/working-memory issues, central auditory processing disorders, inattentive ADHD, brain concussions, repeated sports concussions, etc. Sometimes emotions have to be explained to adults. The Dale Carnegie book on friends and people may help; also, some stimulants/alerting agents used to treat inattentive ADHD (coffee, caffeine compounds, Tirend, NoDoz, Ritalin, Adderall, etc.), for some, slightly improve aspects of empathy and emotional sensitivity.
Had a 5yrold now 32 and this lack of empathy and sensitivity has been very takes some understanding in a family unit. Cathy