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Psychological Complication of Traumatic Brain Injury

Introduction

Trauma is a common cause of brain injury and is usually due to a violent blow to the head. The main causes of trauma are motor vehicle accidents, falls and assaults. The population at highest risk is in the 15- to 24-year age range, with more males affected.

The brain injury may range from mild to severe. Mild injuries may only cause temporary confusion but severe injuries can cause long term impairment.

Signs and symptom

A wide range of symptoms may occur including:

  • Cognitive impairment e.g. problems with attention, concentration, memory
  • Mood changes e.g depression, mania
  • Anxiety symptoms e.g. worry, fearfulness
  • Psychotic symptoms e.g. hallucinations, delusions
  • Personality changes e.g. becoming more talkative or disinhibited
  • Poor impulse control e.g irritability, agitation

 

Complication

Some patients may develop serious long term complications e.g dementia or problems in personality or impulse control.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the presenting symptoms and may include medication, psychotherapy and behavioral therapy. The patient and family should also receive education and support.

Prevention

As the main cause of trauma is due to motor vehicle accidents, safe driving practices are highly important. In addition a safe home and work environment can reduce accident (Link to Safety at home/safety at the workplace). Being cautious when you have taken medications that cause drowsiness.

Rehabilitation

Depending on the presenting symptom, the patient may need interventions in occupational or vocational functioning as well as acquire skills in anger management, impulse control and relaxation.

Support group

Malaysian Mental Health Association

Last Reviewed : 20 April 2012
Writer : Dr. Eni Rahaiza binti Muhd Ramli
Penyemak : Dr. Dr. Norizam Bt. Md Alias