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What Are the Symptoms of Right Brain Damage?

By Sandi Johnson
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Right brain damage, also known as right hemisphere brain damage, can result from a variety of injuries, strokes, and other medical conditions. While the cause of brain injury or damage can vary, the symptoms of right brain damage present the same, with severity of symptoms based on the severity and specific placement of the damaged area. Indications include problems with memory, problem solving, communication, and attention; impairments to the left side of the body and left side neglect; as well as difficulties judging size, space, or distance. Such symptoms are common, although some patients can have additional symptoms such as mood or behavioral changes.

The right side or hemisphere of the brain controls cognitive functions, as well as physical operation of the left side of the body. As such, symptoms of right brain damage typically revolve around thinking and reasoning tasks and may include some changes to mobility or awareness of an individual's left side. Left side neglect is one such symptom, with patients demonstrating a diminished awareness of things on the left side of the body. Patients presenting with left side neglect appear to ignore extremities or entire regions of the body on the left side, as well as activities, sounds, or people to their left.

In addition to left side neglect, right brain damage may also result in physical limitations relative to the left side of the body. A patient may present with symptoms such as weakness in extremities, impaired movement, or complete lack of muscle control. Facial features and expressions can appear lopsided, with the left side drooping or remaining unresponsive. Lack of response from the left side is typical in stroke survivors with right brain damage but may also be present in patients with traumatic brain injury.

Problems with cognitive functions may result in difficulty maintaining attention or performing more than one task at a time. Since the right hemisphere also controls communication, patients with right brain damage may also have trouble with the pragmatics of social communication. Inappropriate comments and the inability to maintain the topic of conversation are common. The ability to organize steps to complete various tasks is also a common result of impaired cognitive function. Memory — especially short term memory — may also be affected, with patients exhibiting the ability to recall past experiences easily while not remembering what was served for lunch or with whom the patient just had a conversation.

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Discussion Comments
By fify — On Oct 28, 2013

The symptoms of right hemisphere brain damage can actually vary a lot. I meet patients with RHD (right hemisphere damage) frequently at the hospital I work at. Even though some of their symptoms are the same, the intensity of the symptoms vary based on the type of injury they have.

Different parts of the brain are responsible for different functions, so what symptoms appear depends on which exact parts in the right brain are affected. For example, one person with right sided brain injury might not have many physical problems but a lot of cognitive ones. Someone else might be doing better cognitively but with physical coordination and control problems. So it depends on the individual and the type of damage.

By donasmrs — On Oct 28, 2013

@burcidi-- That's a great question. The reason for it is that the nerves in the brain cross over. So the nerves located on the right side of the brain, cross over and continue in the left side of the body. This is why damage to the brain's right side results in symptoms on the left side.

For example, if you see someone with paralysis on the left side of their body due to a stroke. You can be sure that the stroke caused right brain injury.

By burcidi — On Oct 27, 2013

Why does right brain damage cause issues in the left side of the body? Shouldn't it cause issues on the right side?

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