A region located toward the back of the brain, the occipital lobe is mainly responsible for producing sight. Occipital lobe injury often results in cognitive problems like hallucinations, difficulty recognizing colors and overall visual impairment. Four common types of injury often cause damage to the occipital lobe. These include automobile crashes, blunt force trauma, strokes and gunshots.
One of the more common reasons for injury to the occipital lobe is being in an automobile crash. Any time there is significant impact to the back of the head, there is a risk for damage. Rear end car crashes are particularly bad for occipital lobe injury because the head quickly moves forward and backward. Often when jerking backward, the back of the head slams forcefully against the seat. The higher the speed is upon impact, the greater the potential for damage.
Wrecking on a motorcycle is even worse because the back of the head often bounces off the pavement with significant force. If the person falls off in such a way that he hits his back first, the odds of damage are increased. Even with a helmet on, occipital lobe injury is likely to occur.
Damage to the occipital lobe can also stem from any type of blunt force trauma. Although the human skull does a relatively good job of protecting the brain, excessive trauma to the back of the brain often results in occipital lobe injury. Things like falls, physical attacks and even sports injuries can create problems. Football players are especially at risk due to the prevalance of head-to-head contact.
Strokes are another common cause of injury to this part of the brain. If the normal blood supply to the brain is altered, it can have negative effects on numerous regions of the brain. When the occipital lobe experiences changes in blood flow, there is a high probability of injury. In this case, individuals usually experience visual hallucinations and some people actually go blind.
Gunshots are an additional cause of occipital lobe injury. If a person is lucky enough to survive a gunshot to the head, there are still a host of brain injuries that can occur. Should a bullet penetrate any area in the back of the brain, it's very likely that the occipital lobe will be damaged. Unlike some of the other causes, treating injuries from gunshots is much more difficult. In most cases, long term damage is probable.