The frontal lobe is the part of the brain that controls cognitive skills of the body. These cognitive skills include the emotions, memory, problem solving skills, judgment, language, and sexual behavior.
A frontal lobe brain injury can cause a huge change in a person’s emotional control. An aggressive behavior is usually manifested. In some cases lethargy is experienced. Any damages on the frontal lobe can also impair complex movements such as preparing coffee.
The frontal lobe controls motor skills like eye & hand coordination, emotions, conscious thought and even your personality. As a result of a brain injury, frontal lobe damage may impair your judgment, motivation, attention span and organizational capacity.
Because emotions are affected, the symptoms of frontal lobe damage can cause a person to become impulsive or to assume risky behaviors.
The frontal lobe is the largest part of the brain. It is also the last part to develop. Because of its location, it is prone to injuries.
The front part of the frontal lobe is known as the prefrontal cortex. It is vital for the higher cognitive functions and personality determination.
The back part of the frontal lobe consists of the motor and pre-motor areas. It is responsible for producing and modifying movement.
Effects of Frontal Lobe Damage
MRI studies by Levin in 1990 indicated that the frontal lobe is the region that’s most likely to experience mild to moderate injury. The left frontal lobe is mainly responsible for controlling movements related to language while the right frontal lobe is responsible for the non-verbal movements.
Based from Kolb and Milner, an individual that suffered from frontal damage could display few spontaneous movements in the face and speak fewer words or vice versa for right frontal lesions.
A common characteristic of a frontal brain injury is difficulty to interpret feedback from the environment. There is also a dramatic change in a persons’ social behavior.
Symptoms of Frontal Lobe Damage
Damage to the frontal lobe can exhibit multiple signs and symptoms that can occur together. This event is called dysexecutive syndrome. It is divided into 3 categories: the cognitive (movement and speech), emotional and behavioral.
- Movement: Presence of tremors, dystonia, apraxia, gait disorder and clumsiness.
- Emotional: Difficulty controlling emotions, excitement, anger and depression including difficulty in understanding others opinions
- Behavioral: Difficulty in utilizing and perseveration of behavior, social inhibition and in some cases compulsive eating.
- Language : Presence of aphasia and expressive aphasia.
There are some studies where patients experience several symptoms but not all of them. Thus researchers are still arguing about the term dysexecutive.
Causes of Frontal Lobe Damage
The most common cause of frontal lobe disorders is a closed head injury like an accident, cerebrovascular disease which causes stroke, tumors such as meningiomas, Alzheimer;s disease, Pick’s disease or frontotemporal dementia (FTD).
The degree of dysfunction caused by right frontal lobe damage depends on the patients’ abilities before the TBI. Also it depends on the extent, location, and nature of the damage as a result of TBI.
To assess the frontal lobe damage, physicians requests for a complete neuropsychological evaluation. The testing measures speech, motor skills, social behavior, spontaneity, impulse control, memory, problem solving, language, and more.
Medical care for a patient with frontal lobe damage will be based on the status of the patient and the cause of the damage. For most head injuries, physical and occupational therapy is always part of rehabilitation.
Speech therapy is also a vital part of the treatment especially for frontal lobe damage.
Consultation with a a neuropsychologist is also done to assess the nature and extent of damages in the cognitive function of the body. This also helps to make the necessary treatment plans for the patient and his family. This consultation also ensure that the patients’ environments and home setting is appropriate for the patient’s condition.
After identifying the extent of the injury and the patient’s new environment, consultants will then need assistance from a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, and a speech therapist. For some a home health aide, a visiting nurse, a respite care staff and an adult day care staff is needed to make the treatment successful.
The recovery time may take long. It depends on the severity of the injury and in some instances the patient may not fully recover. The rehabilitation process is not going to be easy. It needs full effort for both the patient and the family. Even though the patient undergoes therapy sessions, unusual impulses may still happen and can result to impulsive or uninhibited behavior. Therefore, understanding from the people surrounding the patient is very important.