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What Are the Effects of Brain Damage?

By Jennifer Long
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Brain damage can be either temporary or permanent, and is the result of several causes, including injury and disease. The brain is the control center of the body, and damage can lead to many problems. Most commonly, the effects of brain damage include difficulty with walking, talking, remembering things, and cognition or processing.

Temporary effects of brain damage can be the result of head injury, oxygen deprivation, or mini-strokes. In many cases, full recovery is possible after healing is complete. Some people receive therapy, such as physical or speech therapies. Exact symptoms vary depending on which part of the brain is affected.

Permanent effects of brain damage are more commonly the result of diseases and conditions that cause ongoing damage, such as full strokes, aneurysms, epilepsy, and cerebral palsy. These causes do not allow the brain to heal before more damage occurs, and sometimes the damage cannot be repaired.

The frontal lobe, or forehead area, largely controls movement, focus, and personality. Effects of brain damage to this region include paralysis, lack of focus, and mood changes. Many people with frontal lobe damage may show changes in personality and social behavior that are out of the ordinary.

Parietal lobe damage symptoms include trouble differentiating left and right and trouble reading or drawing. Eye and hand coordination can also be affected. Failure to name objects correctly is also connected to parietal lobe damage.

Effects of brain damage to the occipital lobes are primarily limited to vision. Difficulties identifying objects and colors, recognizing object movement, and experiencing visual hallucinations are common symptoms. People with damage to this region may also have word blindness and visual field cuts.

Above the ears on either side of the head are the temporal lobes. The effects of brain damage in this area can include persistent talking, aggressiveness, and long term memory problems. Some damage can also cause short term memory lapses, trouble recognizing faces, and difficulty processing spoken words. In some cases, a marked increase or decrease in sexual behavior is possible.

Damage to the brain stem can lead to more pronounced function difficulties. Trouble swallowing fluids and foods, difficulty with maintaining balance, and sleeping problems are common. Dizziness, nausea, and environmental perception issues are apparent for some people, while others may only show problems with breathing while talking.

Cerebellum damage causes problems with general movement. The cerebellum controls fine movements, walking, speech, and rapid movement. Brain damage in this region can affect any or all of these functions.

Regardless of whether the damage is temporary or permanent, living with brain damage can be difficult. Adjusting to daily life and making accommodations is important. Seeking proper treatment for the problems caused by brain damage can help sufferers learn how to function as normally as possible.

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Discussion Comments
By croydon — On May 11, 2014

@pastanaga - Unfortunately that happens fairly often when people have a stroke. My grandfather had to learn how to walk and talk again at an elderly age after he had one, because of extensive brain damage. Luckily my father knew something about physiology and was able to help him a lot.

By pastanaga — On May 10, 2014

@KoiwiGal - There are always cases that go the other way too, though, where it doesn't seem like there was very much brain damage but the effects are catastrophic to the point where the person can no longer function.

Then there is that one guy who apparently lost something like 80% of his brain matter over the course of a few decades because of his condition and no one noticed, because the remaining cells just took over all the work.

It is interesting, but I have to admit I wouldn't want to see what happened to my own brain if it was damaged. It must be horrible to feel like the same person but suddenly be unable to do what you used to be able to do.

By KoiwiGal — On May 09, 2014

It might be a bit morbid, but I love reading non-fiction about what happens when the brain is damaged in different places. It's such a complex thing and it never works the way you'd expect.

For example, in some cases people who suffered from a brain injury became unable to speak, but they could still communicate by singing. There have also been people who have miraculously become obsessed with a subject like art after brain damage.

Even those people who have severe damage can often be rehabilitated to a remarkable extent because the brain will compensate by using other areas.

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