What Is Disinhibition After Brain Injury and How Can Therapists Help?


What is disinhibition after brain injury and how can therapists help?


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[Glenn Parkinson] Sometimes people have neurobehavioral sequelae, which can impact the way in which they behave. So, disinhibition is something that we hear a lot about, people talk a lot about following brain injury. People sort of—we talk about it as losing your filter— things that you would normally think but you don't actually say out loud. They get stuck in the filter. Well, when the filter is broken, it's cracked, or it's gone—"zhoop"—just kind of pops right out. So, that relates to all sorts of things. It relates to aggression. It relates to making inappropriate comments about not liking someone's jacket that they're wearing. It also can relate to issues around sexuality and noticing an attractive person on the street, and making a comment when your spouse is right there and not exactly open to hearing that—or even talking to providers. Sometimes in the hospital, if someone has more disinhibition, then they will make inappropriate comments to providers, to their PT, about what they are wearing, or going out to dinner, or that kind of thing. When you work in a rehab environment, that's diagnostic. That's really helpful. That helps you understand kind of what's going on with them. But, for someone socially, that can get them into a lot of trouble, if they lose a sense of kind of the boundaries of social norms, and what's appropriate to say, and what's not appropriate to say.
Posted on BrainLine May 13, 2013.

About the author: Glenn Parkinson

Glenn Parkinson, MSW, MA works as the psychotherapist on the Traumatic Brain Injury service at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. She works with active duty and retired military personnel and their families specializing in combat-related injuries.

Glenn Parkinson

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Erica Queen, BrainLine.